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Wisdom Doesn't Always Come With Age

Christie Brinkley is being cheered for returning to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue at 63 in a photo with her two daughters also in posing in swimwear.  Brinkley is presenting her daughters in a collection of sexual fantasy objects.  LET'S CELEBRATE HER IN OUR CULTURE!

From Diebold voting machines to OS X viruses, people like to think that, yeah, they can be exploited, but no one will think to do it.  "Protection through obscurity."  And every once in a while, members of the counterculture who actually know what the fuck they are doing come along, bite them in the ass, and provide a very entertaining show for the rest of us.  Today, we must tip our hats to another group of brave anons.  They who decided to use a simple vunerability to turn things on their ear.  As usual, it's actually been around for a while, it's just that no one's thought to do anything with it yet, and as a result, no one tried to close it off before it was too late.

So, let's talk about a little something called Low Power FM.  This starts with the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  The first, and at the time, only act regulating communications, such as phones and broadcasting, was the Communications Act of 1934 (colloquially known simply as "the 1934 Act").  Between the rise of cell phones, which meant phone companies could compete with AT&T without having to pay for using their phone lines, the spread of cable TV wanting to make inroads in Internet and phone service, and media on the Internet itself, there were concerns that the 1934 Act was outdated.  Given all these new avenues, the Telecommunications Act was supposed to help encourage competition in these emerging markets by eliminating barriers to entry, primarily by easing restrictions on the industry.  It was passed by the 104th Congress on January 3, 1996, and Slick Willie Clinton signed it into law on February 8.

And how did that go?  Well, mergers and acquisitions skyrocketed.  Now that several radio and TV stations in the same market could be owned, they became less local and more market driven.  The power to shape agendas and control information appeared as big companies with more money bought their way in while everyone else was shut out.  It's the ciiiiiiiircle of liiiiiiiiife.

This did not sit well who saw broadcast technology as a way to inform and engage people, not create a protected marketplace.  Progressives of the time began mobilizing for a new class of radio to do just that.  Among those backing for opening the airwaves were musician Bonnie Raitt, the Communication Workers Of America, the National League Of Cities, the American Library Association, the United Church Of Christ, and various other religious and educational groups.  In a relatively short time, they had gotten the attention of the FCC.  In January 2000, they created a new radio station class called Low Power FM.  In order to run a commercial FM radio station, you have to broadcast at at least 100 watts of power.  LPFM was allowed to operate truly local stations -- they could broadcast at between 1 and 10 watts of power or 50 and 100 watts of power.

(Side note:  lots of my readers are very keen on political discussion and activism, especially now that Agent Orange is in charge of the White House.  This LPFM thing probably sounds like a good idea to you, doesn't it?  Well, my little anchovies, if you are really that interested in what it takes to set up and run an LPFM, hie yourselves on over to the Prometheus Radio Project.  It's pretty much a one-stop shop for anything you could possibly want to know about LPFM.  And the pedigree is good -- in 2003, they took on the FCC over further relaxing ownership restrictions and won.  They also provide workshops on things like broadcast law and regulations and how to start your own LPFM.  Stop on over.  You'll be glad you did.)

Well, this didn't sit well with the National Association Of Broadcasters, who didn't like this area they couldn't play in and control.  NAB President Edward O. Fritts complained that LPFM shouldn't be allowed because they needed to "maintain spectrum integrity" for commercial stations.  So they did what any industry with money and political ties do when faced with loss of control -- they turned to their pets in Congress.  The 2000 spending bill that went through Congress had a cute little rider called the Radio Broadcast Preservation Act of 2000.  Basically, it sought to kneecap the expansion of LPFM, and it did so by removing regulatory authority from the FCC and giving it to Congress instead.    Slick Willie signed it into law in December 2000.  Since then, studies and activism and appreciative audiences have forced several revisions and improved laws to be passed for the benefit of LPFM.  One of which, in 2005, was co-sponsored by Constitutional traitor John McCain.

Everybody still with me so far?  That's good!

So, what is going on?  Well, as you may have guessed, LPFM uses a lot of Internet connections for everything from live events to remote broadcasts to whatever.  And one of the most popular pieces of software for doing this is the Barix Exstreamer, which is used to decode various file format and send them down the pipe for transmission.  In April 2016, Ars Technica, one of those tech web sites that actually knows what it's talking about, discovered a vulnerability in the software that left it open to exploitation.  Barix immediately began contacting its customers, telling them to update their software, use a 24-character password, and not to connect any live streams directly to the Internet, put them behind a firewall or VPN first.

If you know anything about people and technology, you won't be surprised that lots of people just never got around to it -- one station manager told Heat Street that her transmitter was connected directly to the Internet with no password enabled at all.  And here comes Anonymous.  Hackers are targeting LPFM stations using Barix to hijack their signals and broadcast a little protest song.  That song?  "Fuck Donald Trump" by YG and Nipsey Hussle.  The exploits started shortly after Trump's inauguration on January 20th.  It's only been spreading since.

Broadcast power to the people.

Can Someone Reboot Facebook's Clue Server?

One way to tell when your social group has made it big is when a bunch of idiots who are the antithesis of what you are and do become what you are known for.  Because they grab the headlines and get the attention, people assume EVERYONE in the group is like that.  On the right, you had the Tea Partiers.  Originally just a group of people who wanted tax reform, their numbers swelled with faux libertarians who saw a ready-made organization they could hijack instad of building and defining their own from scratch.  On the left, you had Occupy Wall Street.  They went from a group that was demanding accountability to a bunch of idiots protesting the wrong things to the wrong people, with a representative who called herself "Ketchup" getting an interview on cable news, turning the group into a laughing stock before they could get anything done.  Christians have had this problem for eons, as the intolerant dipshits claiming to know the Will Of God try to hold people's salvation hostage while most Christians want to live in harmony and understanding like Jesus taught (Dan Savage was notorious for taking cheap shots at Christians, until he started hearing from the rank and file, prompting him to create the NALT, or Not All Like That, tag so they could separate themeselves from the deserving targets).

Over the past few years, the Progressive movement has morphed in the Regressive movement, undermining the very things their predecessors fought and died for, embracing "separate but equal" without a hint of irony.  But no one wants to be left out.  On the right, the zombie of the Tea Party movement revived and shambled out of the ditch it had been dumped in, spurred on by the victory of Donald Trump.  In just a few months, they have managed to equal the Regressives on the scale of Crazy.  Now both sides are locked in a fierce battle to see who can be the bigger screwball.  The Trumpies raised the stakes pretty quick, especially when it came to Freedom Of Speech.  You better be careful what you say, because we're watching you!  Well, the Regressives may not have as many outlets as the Trumpies have, but they have bigger ones, sort of the difference between more shovels and a bigger shovel.  And one of their biggest is Facebook.

It wasn't that long ago that Facebook was getting hammered for helping diseminate "fake news" (is there any other kind?  HA!  ZING!).  But Facebook is also looking at problems with its investors.  People forgot the lesson of Machinima and the Pewdie Pie debacle with Levi's.  After all, part of what scuttled the Twitter buyout was all the trolls and various other stupid people tweeting out provocative and outrageous statements and people saying, "We don't want to buy that and have to deal with it!"  Facebook isn't quite as bad as Twitter, but it can give it a run for its money.  And that means a ban hammer with a hair trigger.


Who remembers this?  This is Tara Strong, a legend in the voice acting community.  Her resume is as varied as it is extensive, and as you can guess, she is the voice of Twilight Sparkle on My Little Pony -- Friendship Is Magic.  For years, Strong enjoyed and interacted with the various online fandoms and people, even teasing trolls with a short song she would get other fans to sing along with and other things earning her the title "The Queen Of The Bronies."  However, no one can take all that forever.  Shit gets old.  And Strong hit her limit this weekend in a cautionary tale that ANY post on Facebook is potentially a ticking time bomb.

So, what happened?  Strong has come out swinging at Donald Trump, retweeting and countering various tweets from Agent Orange and his henchwoman Kellyanne Conway.  Mark Hammill has been periodically recording Trump's tweets in the voice of the Joker.  Strong has joined the fun by voicing tweets as Harley Quinn, who she voices in the Batman Arkham games and the new Justice League Action series.  Then, Strong, who is Jewish, posted a picture of herself with Rizwan Manji and the caption, "This is what it look like when Jews & Muslims are friends."  Well, that did it.  The Trumpies took aim at Strong's religion.  She was getting messages calling her derogatory names for Jews and saying she should get the gas chamber.  And like most people with both Twitter and Facebook accounts, she shared the information on both sites, calling for Twitter to suspend the accounts of the assholes.  Normally, Twitter's anti-harassment team moves with the speed of a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter.  But they suddenly went, as Sterling Archer would say, from half-assed to quadruple ass (which is, like, eight times the ass).  They suspended the accounts pretty damn quick.

But now, we get to Facebook.  Strong was sharing the anti-Semetic abuse she was getting, and at around 230PM on Jan 27, she found her Facebook account was suspended for being offensive.  No.  I'm not kidding.  Strong, obviously, was pissed, and filed an appeal with FB's abuse team.  On Jan 30, the decision was made -- Facebook COMPELTELY DELETED STRONG'S FB ACCOUNT.  Strong tweeted about this, and all her fans organized and started hammering Facebook to demand they fix this.

This morning, someone at Facebook must have seen all the messages and hashtags, swallowed their gum, and got some people on the phone, because Strong's account is back.  She posted a message of thanks to all her fans for their support.  And I'm glad she's gotten her situation fixed.

But Facebook?  Tell me, Facebook -- why should I trust you?  Your TOS is already stupid (it's the reason I only link to my work instead of posting it directly).  Now, you have a team that makes the absolutely wrong decision, one that would have stood if it wasn't for the power a person's celebrity can bring.  In your quest to attack hateful thoughts, you blew up the wrong target.

Don't worry about protecting us from ourselves or from others.  Worry about protecting us from YOU.

Second Verse, Same As The First

I have just received a message calling me "an irrelevant Democrat, liberal, anti-God, anti-American, anti-Trump snowflake scum!"

My goodness, is it time to drop and block people on my social media again already?

Masaya Nakamura, Rest In Peace

Masaya Nakamura, founder of Namco, has died.  He was 91.

He actually died about a week ago, but Bandai Namco held on to the information out of respect for Nakamura and his family.  Thank you.

The video game world, and my own childhood, would be a lot different without him.  I was always fascinated with video games, but Pac-Man, as far as I can recall, was the first time I ever geeked out.  I spent countless hours playing the arcade game, watching the cartoon, and loving the merch.  Video games would have continued without him.  But the landscape would be much different, and in fact, most of what we know and love wouldn't exist.

Nakamura was born on December 24, 1925.  He came of age while Japan was recovering from WWII, studying shipbuilding and graduating from Yokohama Institute Of Technology in 1948.  In 1955, he founded Nakamura Manufacturing to make kiddie rides for department stores.  Nakamura was shrewd, and knew opportunity when he saw it -- in the early 60's, Mistukoshi and him entered into a deal to let Nakamura put a ride on the top of one of their stores.  It proved such a hit, Mistukoshi ordered him to do it for all stores in their chain.  Nakamura eventually renamed his company the Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company, or NAMCO for short.

In the 1970's, Nakamura expanded his company to make arcade games.  At the time, this meant the electromechanical games.  But he noticed video game technology and saw it as the future.  Atari's video game division was falling apart at the seams and Nolan Bushnell was looking to sell it.  Sega offered $80K for it.  Nakamura offered a cool $500K.  He got it, distributing Atari games in Japan for over a decade and inspiring his own staff (Nakamura also play tested his company's own creations to see how fun they were).  In 1979, Namco did their first, "Yeah, you did it first, but we did it better," by adding a couple of twists to Space Invaders and creating Galaxian.  Then, in 1980, a new hire by the name of Toru Iwatani created a design for a maze game.  Nakamura noticed the "pukka pukka" sound effect as the character ate dots, and suggested calling him "Pac-Man."  And video game history was made -- Pac-Man remains the highest grossing video game of all time, having hauled down $3.5 bil by 1990 and giving Nakamura the title of "the father of Pac-Man."  From there, Namco continued to just dominate with games like Ridge Racer and Tekken becoming huge franchises.  He also walked a fine line with the Big N.  Tengen had gotten slick and was making unlicensed games for the Nintendo Entertainment System in the US.  One of their games was Klax, which they eventually licensed to Namco for release in Japan.  The Big N, however, also worked with them, with Namco handing the development of StarFox Armada on the Game Cube.  In 2002, Nakamura stepped down as CEO of Namco, retaining a ceremonial role in his company.  The merger of Bandai and Namco in 2005 made him the 68th richest person in Japan.

Rest well, Nakamura.  You impacted many lives, and especially mine.  You're earned your peace.

Know Your Friends, Know Your Enemies

When the LAPD, the most notorious police force in the country, is standing up for minorities, you dun fucked up.
I've been thinking long and hard about this.  To the point where I didn't sleep well last night.  And I feel the need to break radio silence and talk about politics for just a little while.  The events of the past few days have been playing heavily with my mind.  And amid all the protests and anger and confusion, everybody is missing a really simple, really obvious point that will not only ultimately define the Trump Presidency, but also cause the complete and utter destruction of the Old Guard that runs the Republican Party.  See, they didn't just overplay their hand.  The hand they held wasn't appropriate for the game they were in.

Before I get to what exactly I see, I want to, as usual, start with an analogy.  Anybody, from Republicans to Democrats to whoever, could see what had happened to the world.  And it all started in Arizona.  Several years ago, so-called conservatives managed to pass a "religious freedom" law.  They sold it as protecting people from being prosecuted for objecting to things on the grounds of religious beliefs, such as The Gays.  Many people felt it was to legitimize discrimination.  But it was actually neither of those things.  It was an attempt to make those behind the bill heroes.  I will get to how this was supposed to work anon.

So the bill passes, and these people cheer.  People can now turn gays away from their businesses!  They can ignore them!  They can ostracize them!  And to their shock, lots of businesses didn't go for it.  Instead, businesses started putting up rainbow stickers on their doors to inform people they welcomed everyone, they wouldn't discriminate.  And the people behind the bill went on national interviews and wrote outraged letters about this.  They had made it so people could refuse gays.  Why weren't they doing that?  What was wrong with them?

This is the key point.  The people behind the bill were shocked when, given the chance to do as they wished, they did so.  But what they wished was not the same thing as what the bill supporters wished.

Over the past, say, decade, there has been a siesmic shift in the American public.  California passed a law outlawing gay marriage.  It passed by a comfortable margin.  But it was struck down as unconstitutional.  So they tried to amend the state constitution to do the same.  But support dried up.  It took a concerted effort by places like the Mormon church to get the amendment to squeak by.  In four years, the perspective about gay marriage had shifted so radically, the amendment also didn't pass.  Today, if you tried something like that, you'd be a laughing stock as soon as you introduced the bill.

People like to think that high societal positions set trends.  In reality, the presidency is the result of trends.  We got Jimmy Carter, a humble peanut farmer, in 1976 while the nation was still disgusted about Watergate.  Then people were tired of the milquetoast days and elected Reagan, who was all about star power and fuck the world.  He never explained how increasing spending was supposed to balance the budget, and no one cared.  Bush The First came in, and while he was still a proponent of the Reagan ideals, he was much more subdued about it.  Then the Baby Boomers saw their chance to make their mark, giving us the rock and roll presidency of Bill Clinton.  People got tired of the outrageousness, and installed Bush The Second, a.k.a. Shrub.  Then people were sick of that, and elected Obama.  Each time, it was the values of the time selecting the President.  These behaviors would have existed, whoever was in charge.

I bring this up because, ever since Obama became President, the R's reverted back to the same behavior they exhibited during the Clinton Era.  Clinton was actually the best friend the R's ever had.  He scaled back welfare, something the R's could never do.  He sold oil exploration rights on federal lands to the oil companies for pennies on the dollar, something the R's wanted desperately to do.  He passed the Defense Of Marriage Act, something the R's desperately wanted.  He even kept it a crime to be gay in the miliatry, something the R's insisted was necessary.  Clinton was advancing the R agenda, and his supporters were so focused on cheering on Their Hero that they didn't bother to look at what was really happening.

So now, here we are.  Public attitudes on everything from race to religion to gender equality to gay rights had changed.  But the R's didn't think they REALLY changed.  They figured it was just the authority of the land, Obama, setting the tone, and everyone following it.  And why wouldn't ANYONE think that?  Time and again, careful leaks and strategic lawsuits have shown people will jump in line and behave as one, the question being do you ride with it or outlast it?  And if anyone thinks I'm being too derivative, I would like to point out that no one gives a shit about the Flint water situation anymore.  People donated bottles, sent letters to politicians, and now, they've moved on.  Political outrage is like a sodium fire -- it burns bright, but burns out quick.

The problem is, the R's mistook cultural change for political outrage.  The warnings were there in 2008 when the D's successfully recast John McCain as an extension of Shrub's politics.  There were a LOT of differences, but the R's didn't bother to defend him.  Even Fox News, the R's attack dog, didn't stick up for McCain until about a week before the election, well past the point when most people had made up their minds.  Once again, Obama was the R's best friend.  Doubt me?  Look at the business pages.  Back when John McCain was leading in the polls while Obama and Hillary had their political knife fight, businesses stepped up plans for mergers and acquisitions and squirreling away funds because McCain said he was going to put an end to that.  Then Obama took an insurmountable lead, and all those moves stopped.  They knew Obama would never do that, he would be their friend.  And he was.  Tax holidays.  The bailouts that took out competitors while reinforcing the Big Fish.  And who can forget GM paying off their bailout loan, something they bragged about in an ad campaign at the time, with a second bailout passed when no one was looking?  Expanding surveilance.  Gitmo.  All these things were things the R's wanted.

But what they didn't want was the cultural shift.  Despite a vicious and extensive misinformation campaign about everything from where Obama was born to is Obama a Muslim to just flat out being black (one of my coworkers said that countries around the world were ready to riot if Obama was elected because they didn't approve of a black man as President.  When it didn't happen, she didn't talk to me), Obama got elected anyway.  The R's figured it was just a reflection of who was president, not the other way around.  Thanks to misuse of funds in the party, the R's found themselves stuck with Mitt Romney in 2012.  Mittens had a support network thanks to his business ties and the fundraising organizations in the Mormon church that meant he didn't need party money to fund his campaign.  His competition needed that money, but it wasn't there.  Still, they embraced Mittens despite that pesky Mormon thing because he supported outlawing abortion and his church led the campaign to ban gay marriage in California, but his business ties would mean he would support the Big Business agenda.  In other words, he would change public culture without changing political culture.

And that didn't work.

Now, we have Trump.  Trump is basically trying to undo the cultural shift.  He's giving people an excuse not to be politically correct anymore, bolstered by stories of people telling blacks that they voted for Trump like a badge of honor and carte blanche to do what they want.  And here's the thing -- no one's doing it.  Trump decides to ban anyone from Muslim countries, legal or not.  Within a few hours, a judge blocked most of the order (please note, it was MOST of the order, not ALL of it.  So all you Lefties patting yourselves on the back?  You're not done yet).  From his dismissal of "agenda-driven" science to prosperity doctrine to racism, Trump and the rest of the R's figured everyone secretly wanted to be free to let the darkness in their hearts be unleashed.  That people needed freedom from political correctness.  They never once considered it wasn't political correctness, but social evolution.  People had learned.  People had adjusted.  People no longer saw the need for the pointless hatred.

They had outgrown it.

Watching the news and how the executive orders are going over like a led balloon, how Trump deplaned in Philly and was greeted by an entire crowd flipping him off, how there are near constant protests going on around the country, it's part of the reason I laugh when people say Trump is going to be the next Hitler.  He won't.  He can't.  Hitler was able to control what people believed, discrediting scientists and affirming his mouthpiece media, because people wanted to believe what he said was true, that the solution to their problems was that simple, that all they had to do was not care.  In America, we are seeing the exact opposite.  News sites are still getting their news, Trump is just denying them his spin (which is a failure of PoliSci 101).  People are still talking, thanks to the Internet.  The climate change and sea temperatures are still there and still being tracked.  People know Trump is full of shit, and turning to outlets he can't control.  In order for Trump to succeed, he needs to control what people think.  And no one is buying what he's selling.  Witness the memos proving that the DEA knows marijuana isn't as harmful as they've been saying but they are maintaining the stance in hopes that it will maintain the laws since people can point to them as "experts."  Decriminalization and legalization are still spreading despite their efforts being backed up by a Republican congress.

The R's thought all they had to do was put themselves in a prominent position, and people would unite underneath them, anxious to be free from the cultural trends, pressure, and guilt of the past eight years.  And now they are finding out people didn't do those things because of who was president (in fact, Obama had to bend to them quite a bit, from ACTA and SOPA to gay marriage itself, something he opposed when first running and started saying, "My views are evolving," when it started coming to a head in 2011). People are doing those things because they care about other people.  Like I've said before, the point of democracy is a set of mutually agreed upon laws that enable people to do what they want without interference or interfering.  And people are getting that now.  You're an Atheist?  You should still be protected from discrimination.  You're black?  You should be able to go where you want when you want.  You're gay?  You should be able to love who you want how you want.  They want laws the protect people from infringement, not encourage it.

I had said, back when Mittens lost, that the R's got a rude awakening.  Even their own port-mortem said that the world had changed, and unless they became more open and accepting of other races, more open on gender, and more tolerant of gays, they would be swept out as the relics they are.  Instead, the R's doubled-down.  Trump is upset he lost the popular vote and believes it was fraud, because how can anyone possibly think what he says and does is wrong?  Trump is a narcissist -- he wants to do what he wants, and the fact that he can means he should.  In his Randian Objectivist mind, there is nothing wrong with using power, because that's what it's there for.  He and the R's don't understand people don't think power should be used that way.  People want to change things for the betterment of everyone, not just themselves.  This is why the Tea Party ultimately collapsed in on itself.

The D's are in the middle of a power struggle.  Had Hilary won, those who backed her would have cemented their positions as power brokers in the party.  But now that she lost and the rank and file are outraged over how the D's handed the election to her instead of Sanders, they have nothing to back themselves up with.  Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and people who believed in the D's are determined to take the party back.  The R's are facing a similar problem.  They put so much stock and faith in Trump because they thought all those people who protested him would ultimately rejoin the fold.  It isn't happening.  If anything, their ranks are swelling with each betrayal (the US paying for the wall, the freeze on government payraises, defunding Obamacare).

The Old Guard is on the edge.  The next position is up against the wall.

The Passing Of The Torch

Kagome, my Acer C710, has died.

Just as her replacement is up and running.  Literally.

I've never made any secret that Kagome was never intended to be a heavy use machine.  Originally, she was something small and Linux-compatible that I could take with me when I went to Florida in 2013.  Her predacessor, Kylie, a Lenovo S10 Model 1, had a mainboard failure with less than a week before the plane took off.  I needed something quick, and the Acer C710 Chromebook with Chrubuntu installed was the way to go.

Kagome has been one of the toughest machines I've ever had.  She has taken falls off the countertop, an entire jug of iced tea that got poured on her keyboard, loose screws rattling around inside her, and all kinds of abuse, and she just kept on chugging.  But in the back of my mind, I knew I needed an actual laptop.  Kagome was just supposed to be a temporary measure and for light use, not most of my stuff.

Last year, I had almost gotten a new computer, a Dell, which refused to let me install Linux.  That was a no-go for me, and I took it back.  This Christmas, I decided enough was enough, and I was going to treat myself.  So I went and got myself an Acer Chromebook 15.  I now knew the trick to installing Linux without having to play with the partitions for Chrubuntu, so I wasn't worried.

The new machine sat, unused, until today, when I decided to get things done.  A little custom firmware, and Linux went on like it was nothing -- certainly a lot easier than the EUFI-hobbled Dell from last year.  While the install, configuration, and gathering of needed programs was going on, Kagome was by my side, playing music and videos to keep me entertained.

Finally, I got the last needed program installed on the new machine.

And Kagome immediately broke.

There wasn't more than a second.  One moment, she was fine.  Next, the final disk clean-up occurs for Libre Office, and suddenly, Kagome loses the sound card.  I mean, the display showed nothing.  The video had trouble playing back.  I decided to restart her, figuring that would fix things.  All I got was a black screen.  I couldn't even get to a shell to do text screen booting.  Absolutely nothing worked.

Kagome gave up.

I have her set aside, part of me is wondering if I might be able to revive her later.  But unless I necro her, she's gone.  One of the best machines I've ever owned.  She did more than she was supposed to and ran with the best of them.  I hope I can revive her, but if I can't, and until that day, she will genuinely be missed.

Which means her replacement got on the job just in the nick of time.

So as I wave farewell to Kagome, I invite you to join me in welcoming the newest computer in my stable.

Say hello to Sunset Shimmer.

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

I love how Millenials will say shit like, "All white people are racist," "All men are sexist," and "All straight people are transphobic," but the instant you say something like "Millenials are oversensitive and lazy," they scream, "HOW DARE YOU JUDGE US!"

The End Of Axanar

There's an old Polish proverb that says, "When waking the tiger, use a long stick."

Congratulations, Alec Peters.  You have effectively destroyed the Star Trek fanfilm community.  Are you happy now?

I'm sick right now.  I took a day off of work just so I could sit at home, cover myself in blankets, and drip fluids.  But no, I had to check the Internet for news today.  And two articles demanded my attention, the second of which I will get to anon.  For now, this is the easier of the two to write, so it goes first.

I've covered the whole disaster of the Star Trek:  Axanar fanfilm in other columns.  With the jury trial ready to begin later this year, the two sides, Paramount/CBS and Alec Peters, literally just reached a settlement. Prelude To Axanar can remain on YouTube and such.  The actual Axanar, however, now gets to be two fifteen minute episodes (which is a break, given that Paramount's own Star Trek guidelines for fanfilms specifically says episodic presentations are out) and that's it.  It is unknown if there is more than that, like what happens with the actual Axanar production company.  That will presumably be coming out later.  But for now, that's the takeaway.

There was a huge push in the press release that the sides had settled.  Well, it is technically a "settlement."  In reality, Paramount/CBS got just about everything they wanted. And there's no going back.

To illustrate, I want to point to a moment in comic book history and a fellow by the name of Dan O'Neill.  O'Neill was an underground cartoonist best known for the strip Odd Bodkins.  In 1971, he founded the Air Pirates collective to do parody and satire.  The result was two issues of Air Pirates Funnies, the centerpiece of which was a "parody" and "satire" of Mickey Mouse (I read the issues, and I frankly found the features forgettable).  Up to this point, parody and satire had a sort of truce with the Establishment -- as long as it was sporting, the Establishment would leave everyone alone.  O'Neill, however, basically dared Disney to try to send him to jail for APF.  Disney did eventually give up after decades of legal pursuit, and O'Neill has since declared victory.  However, it resulted in media companies becoming a lot more protective of their stuff to prevent people like O'Neill from doing what he did.  As New York Law School professor Edward Samuels said, "They set parody back twenty years."

And this is what Peters has done.  Instead of playing nice, which is still the rule of thumb with fan works (and remember my own history with fan works), Peters tried to enfranchise it as its own entity separate from the wishes, goals, and standards of its owner.  There's some great Star Trek fan stuff out there (I think Red Shirt Diaries in particular is a work of genius), and they are all effectively kneecapped because Peters forced Paramount and CBS to close the pool.  Peters wanted what was and was not allowed to be spelled out.  Paramount and CBS did that with a legal staff steeped in history as opposed to a fanfilm maker who wants to do what he wants.  Did Peters really think Paramount and CBS wouldn't get those summary judgments?  Did he really think he would not be seen as infringing on copyright?  Really?

So, today, I drink a toast to Alec Peters.  The party's over.  Thanks a lot.

I Can See Clearly Now, The Brain Is Gone

According to Brian Darling, Trump is going to eliminate the $741 mil for PBS and the NEA because Trump "needs to reform and cut spending dramatically."

Each day Trump and his family stay in New York instead of the White House costs taxpayers an additional $2 mil a day.  Drop dead.

Upcoming Sailor Moon Release News!

Okay, we just got done with the first half of Sailor Moon S getting a DVD release.  And now, we have more news.

First, the re-release of the Sailor Moon R movie, redubbed and remastered.  It streets on April 18th.

Also, the second set of Sailor Moon Crystal, which finishes the web animation series, hits on Februrary 21st.

Which means we will probably see the second half of Sailor Moon S in late fall or early winter.

Of Thee I Sing

So, besides Toby Keith, who will play the Trump inauguration concert?

3 Doors Down.  Marie Osmond.  The Piano Guys.  Lee Greenwood.  Marty Roe.  Larry Stewart.  Tim Rushlow.  DJ Ravidrums.  Jackie Evancho, 16-year-old opera star and runner-up on America’s Got Talent in 2010.

Man, I hope there's enough fill-ins for the Vegas lounges that night.
So, just to make sure I'm clear -- a joke about Michael Jackson being played by a white guy is offensive, but jokes like this are okay....

Oh, Goody. Classism.

Meryl Streep is being applauded for a speech that features this little bon mot --

"Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. If you kick 'em all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts."

Condescension, classism, and us Muricans 2 dumm 2 art.  Nice.  Streep has more in common with Trump than we think.

The Golden Girl!

Fifty years ago, in Detective Comics #359 (Jan 67), Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl, made her big debut.

Well, This Is No Ordinary Dude....

God is using the Internet to argue with me.

"You Shut Mouf!" "No, YOU Shut Mouf!"

So, last night, I get to the New Year's party for fun and for another short set with my band November 23, 1963 (the world's only Doctor Who tribute polka band!  Recognize!), and I check the Intertubes for news.

And I see, on the last day of the year, Stephen Shamus is lobbing grenades back at Wizard World following Wizard's summons from Friday.

One day left in the year, and they STILL have to go at it....

Okay, so what is it this time?  Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool has found that Stephen Shamus has submitted a blizzard of paperwork to the court regarding the various Wizard documents and his own countersuit.  Among the filings is an order of attachment.  The order of attachment says that Wizard has to set aside $625,000 dollars in escrow so that, if he wins his lawsuit, Wizard can pay him.  In other words, Kessler and company can't grab absolutely everything from Wizard, and puts Shamus in position to challenge BIF for first creditor status.

To back up his claim, Shamus points out that Wizard has moved its offices from New York, where his contract was originally drawn up, to LA, where contract laws have key differences.  He also points out that the SEC filings by Wizard state they are running out of money and that Shamus' own lawsuit could doom the company (a lawsuit for $625,000 can financially ruin the company?  Wizard is in worse shape than I thought).  "It is clear that the Wizard World executives are looting the Company yet stating Wizard World is cash poor.  Accordingly, drastic means are warranted."

On the bright side, it looks like it's going to be quiet for a couple of weeks.  A hearing has been scheduled for January 12.  If Wizard doesn't show up, the order of attachment goes through and $625,000 of Wizard's cash becomes untouchable by the company, which can kick bankruptcy talks into overdrive.  Wizard can argue against the order of attachment and try to convince the judge not to let it through.  But nothing can be done until that trial date.

Happy New Year to Wizard and the Shamus?

Ye Olde Ponder Point

Did anyone else notice that, in a year with people dropping like flies, Rob Kardashian had a medical emergency, but has recovered?  Like the Grim Reaper was swinging that scythe around, got him, and thought, "Oh, shit!" and tried to keep him alive?
"It's a summons!"
"What's that mean?"
"It means, summons in trouble!"

-- Rocky And Bullwinkle

Last business day of the year, and what do we get?  Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool has observed another salvo in the battle over the remains of Wizard World.  This time, it's a summons, and the allegations it makes are pretty remarkable.

The server of the summons is Wizard World Inc.  The recipient(s)?  For starters, the three Shamus Bros, Gareb, Stephen, and Ken.  But wait, there's more!  It also lists 4 Brothers and Pivot Media, both of which are owned by Gareb.  But wait, there's more!  It's All Normal, owned by Stephen.  Gem Funding.  And Eric Weisblum and Vincent Labarbara.  (Robert Knie was also named initially, but he has since been dropped from the complaint.)

We know the Shamuses by now, but who are these other two?  They, along with the aforementioned Knie, are shareholders in Wizard World.  They are alleged to be majority holders and close friends of the Shamuses.  And the complaint says they were involved in a plot to try and stage a coup to take over Wizard World.

Remember my last report, when I mentioned that a shareholder meeting for Wizard World hadn't happened yet for this year?  Well, it seems the reason for that is, according to the complaint, Stephen, Ken, Gareb, Weisblum, and Labarbara (I'm not sure if Knie is still factoring into this.  Remember, he's been dropped from the complaint, and I'm working off the original filing here, so keep an open mind, m'kay?) were going to team up and force an ouster of John Maatta, the present CEO, and install Stephen in the post.

The complaint alleges that Stephen has made statements that confirm this.  But court documents can allege all kinds of things -- that is why they go to trial, to iron them out.  However, we have a smoking gun that makes the charges pretty hard to refute.  Labarbara owns a company, Network 1, that finances Jerrick Media Holdings.  Recall that, on Dec 2, Wizard declared that they had found additional funding and the Dec 5 revealed it was from the Bristol Investment Fund.  Well, on Dec 1, Jerrick issued a press release stating their intentions to buy Wizard World.  However, there was allegedly no contact between Wizard and Jerrick before the press release, and nothing after.  Wizard alleges this was to motivate other shareholders into uniting behind Team Shamus.

Wizard states that Team Shamus has not filed its intentions for its stock ownership with the SEC, in violation with trading rules, and seeks to block them from trading OR VOTING until they have done so and the market has a chance to absorb the news.

The "voting" part is what I find interesting.  If they are blocked from voting, then if a shareholder meeting is held sometime in March and Team Shamus is out, the board may go with whatever Maatta and Paul Kessler recommends.

Here's what you need to look at on the calendar:

January 4 -- Wizard World New Orleans, with a huge influx of people selling autographs
Februrary 17 -- Wizard World Portland, which has a sizable line-up
March 15 -- Corporate taxes are due
March 17 -- Wizard World Cleveland

If Wizard is going to declare bankruptcy, March 15 is the right time, when the taxes are due.  The board may decide they are done with this Hindenburg of a company and bail.  The asset agreement makes Kessler and company first creditor, so they get the Wizard brand and assets, leaving Team Shamus out in the cold.

I was invited to participate in a dead pool for Wizard.  I took April.  I'm not planning to spend the money, but I am shopping around....

Some People Will Bitch About Anything

So, Steve Martin is sexist for calling Carrie Fisher a "beautiful creature," but all these people posting pics of Fisher as Slave Girl Leia, an outfit it is well documented that she hated, are not sexist.


The Worst Games Of 2016

Well, it’s that time of year, when everything wraps up.  And as such, everyone likes making numerically quantifiable lists of the best and the worst of the year.  I’ve decided to do this myself, with a list of the worst games of the year.

But I’m adding a caveat — my own video game tastes are uniquely my own.  As such, my perspective on things varies quite wildly from dominant opinion.  The result is a steady stream of, “Dude!  How could you not think such and such was trash?!?”  So I’m going to alternate.  First, I will list a game that, for whatever reason, I don’t think qualifies to be on a Worst Of The Year list, then I will do one that DOES deserve, complete with reasons why.

FOURTH WORST GAME OF THE YEAR — UMBRELLA CORPS.  I have Resident Evil 2 on my Tiger game.com.  And when you make a game that makes me want to play that instead?  Something’s wrong.

Capcom engineered this game to join the esports scene that has been so good to games like Rocket League.  However, they tried to tie it into the RE universe despite it having almost nothing in common with the series.  Oh, zombies, sure.  But there was no atmosphere, characters, or narrative that linked back.  Hell, there were no characters or narrative period, just faceless Umbrella Corps soldiers shooting each other without explanation.

The game has major balancing problems.  There’s a simple instakill weapon that removes all challenge from the game.  Respawns of both the players and the missions are completely random, sometimes in either the worst placement for the players (resulting in instant death) or the best placement for the characters (a new objective right by the squad so they can get it within a few seconds of it commencing).  And while I do complain about games the focus on multiplayer to the exclusion of single player, when the single player is this lousy, they simply shouldn’t have bothered.

NOT ONE OF THE WORST GAMES OF THE YEAR — CSGO LOTTO AND OTHERS OF THAT ILK.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m a coder myself and see how this can be rigged.  I don’t know if it’s just common sense that unregulated gambling can be rigged.  I don’t know if it’s my awareness that the whole CSGO gambling thing had already gotten shady before the CSGO Lotto debacle.  I don’t know if it’s just my disbelief that people are willing to put thousands of dollars on the line and risk losing it with a coin toss.  All I know is, if you are really that stupid, then you get what you deserve.

THIRD WORST GAME OF THE YEAR — SAILOR MOON DROPS.  I’ve bitched before about “pay to win” games, but Sailor Moon Drops, a game I described in my summation as “ass on toast,” spins it to a whole new level.  Despite being a Sailor Moon fan, the game only lasted two days in my possession before I excised it from my iPad.

On the surface, the game is your basic “match 3” game popularized by Bejeweled and copied by just about everyone that wants to make a branded game without actually developing anything.  But the game hits the grass almost immediately.  The game doesn’t adequately explain its mechanics.  The Luna Bonus at the end of levels, I still have no clue what triggers it, what prolongs it, or what exactly it does.  But the worst is that it will set up playfields and challenges that are impossible to win without either buying powers or the kind of luck that makes your left eye glow.

When I downloaded it, there was a special challenge week where you could play as Codename: Sailor V.  Then I got to that impossible level.  Like I said, it’s a “match 3” game.  The playfield is split into two wells, each four pieces wide, with a single piece in the middle of the two linking them.  There are seven special pieces that you have to get from the top of the wells to drop off the bottom in about 35 moves to win.  And the seventh piece doesn’t appear until the other six drop off.  And because the wells are four pieces wide, moving pieces to vanish and drop the special pieces are almost impossible.  Unless you pony up dough to get special power-ups.  I reached the challenge on the first day I was playing.  I was stuck there until the evening of the second day.

At which point, I physically threw my iPad down the hallway in fury.

The last time I physically blew up at a game to the point of physical action was 1994, while playing Cannon Fodder on the Atari Jaguar, a game so frustrating, I actually smashed the controller (and this was before eBay, so finding replacement Jaguar hardware was no easy trick).  And while I have played games that made me rage in the ensuing years, none of them got to me to that point.

Until Sailor Moon Drops.

Thank God the iPad is made of aluminum, or I might have broken a very expensive piece of very necessary equipment.  Realizing this was not good, I deleted the game from my iPad.  Keep in mind, I have only sold back four games in my lifetime, and I can’t remember deleting a digital one, it usually just sits dormant on my machine.  Sailor Moon Drops?  Gone, never to return.  Namco Bandai, who also gave us the disastrous Slashy Souls, could have done something else.  Almost anything else.  They could have made something like Final Fantasy — All The Bravest, as hands off and inconsequential as it was, with the senshi and it would have been fine.  Instead, they took a “match 3” game and specifically engineered it to be unbeatable by skill alone.  No.

NOT ONE OF THE WORST GAMES OF THE YEAR — NO MAN’S SKY.  I know I’m going to hear about it for this one, but putting aside the horrible behavior of the fan base and the hype machine, No Man’s Sky is simply meh.  (I was immune to the excitement that gobbled up gamers the way I gobble up a box of Ding Dongs.  Seeing the game footage and hearing what Sean Murray was saying would be in there didn’t square, and I figured the game would not be as revolutionary as promised.  All my suspicions proved correct, and disappointed me in my fellow gamers that they fell for it all).  It’s not bad, just a generic space-based crafting game, like an Asteroids Outpost 2.0.  Even if the game launched without the hype and at, say, half the price, it wouldn’t have made it any better.  It’s simply wandering around the environments.  Not a lot of game, true, but that’s hardly a reason to bash it.

SECOND WORST GAME OF THE YEAR — STARFOX ZERO.  Oh, my God, what were they thinking?  Seriously.  This couldn’t have been more disastrous if Fox McCloud and the crew were replaced with the Five Nights At Freddy’s characters.  I don’t mind the short campaign, as I replayed StarFox 64 constantly.  And I genuinely enjoyed the characters (up until Command, where Krystal apparently got a brain transplant), even if Armada could have been better — I did play and complete Adventures, after all.  So I could overlook the graphics seemingly downgraded and a short campaign as long as it had replay value.  But the campaign had no replay value because the enemies were more like drones than actual attackers.  Maybe if they got rid of the chicken-walker mode or the remote robot levels, it could have been fun.

But not with those controls.

You will be praying to Ralph Baer, the patron saint of video games, for the dumb touch screen steering of Command within the first few minutes unless you can find a way to focus on both the TV and the control pad screen at the same time.  No one in testing thought this was a bad idea?  I was only able to play the game by bringing a friend to serve as navigation officer, watching the TV and directing me around as I focused on the targeting and maneuvering.  The targeting system is also horrible, locking on to just about any enemies except the ones closing in on you and about to launch a missile up your ass (not helped when you reach the edge of the area you are allowed to fly in and the game forces you right into the path of incoming fire).  I could sort of understand using the motion controls to aim from the spaceship, but the tank levels?  Why couldn’t they just use the right stick to aim instead of the motion controls and using the stick to make the tank go Nadia Comaneci?

All you need to do to make a successful sequel is take what people liked about the previous games and give them more of it.  StarFox Zero doesn’t do that, and gives something no one wanted or could use.  At least the early games are still there.

NOT ONE OF THE WORST GAMES OF THE YEAR — FNAF WORLD.  I love Scott Cawthon, and this is a perfect example why.  Cawthon is always anxious to share his new creations, and frequently releases them early, from the Silver Eyes book to FNAF World.  I was really looking forward to it just because it was so unexpected.

But the resulting game was released before it was ready.  Glitchy, missing elements, it was a complete misfire.

And here’s where we love Cawthon again.  Cawthon pulled the game from Steam, gave refunds, promised to release the fixed game for free, and got to work fixing it.  And he did it.  Yeah, maybe he should have waited.  But the fact is, he did right by the fans.  Unlike some publishers that can’t be bothered to fix gamebreaking bugs because they are too busy working on DLC you can buy (you know who I’m talking about), Cawthon didn’t laugh his way to the bank.  In a world where games have become cash and carry at the expense of the player experience and the art form, Cawthon stepped up, took his lumps, and tried to put things right.  Cawthon is a wonderful person and the world needs more like him.

WORST GAME OF THE YEAR — MIGHTY NO. 9.  Oh, how I hemmed.  Oh, how I hawwed.  Mighty No. 9 broke all known laws, becoming a disaster in ways no one ever anticipated.  As a result, I had to sift carefully through the wreckage because, how do I know if my opinion is based on the game itself or if it is based on the surrounding drama?  Well, the wheels at Sine Timore turn slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.  As such, I am confident that, once the events surrounding the game are removed, Mighty No. 9 is the worst game of the year.

What makes me say so?  It’s the implementation of the game elements.  It is shocking to me that a game with this much talent, this much time, THIS MUCH MONEY could fail at the fundamentals of game design.  Mega Man had it’s problems as well, most of which got worked out and refined as the series progressed.  But Mega Man started with solid fundamentals.  Mighty No. 9 has a bunch of ideas that were thought to be cool but weren’t implemented properly.

The biggest problem, the thing that pulled me out of the game and nothing could reimmerse me, was the dash.  The dash is a microcosm of the problems the game had with design and implementation.  You HAVE to dash — enemies can take up to three times the firepower to destroy without dashing, leaving the threats out there, and bosses will recover damage if you don’t.  As a result, you are constantly stopping your forward movement or taking up position for a mechanic that doesn’t give you any appreciable advantage other than beating a couple of cheap shit instakills involving an advancing Wall Of Death.  It’s the dumbest game mechanic choice since the 2013 Star Trek that was a stealth game with no melee attacks.

There were other problems as well.  You can only fire horizontally, but enemies routinely position themselves vertically, and only two weapons let you target things not on the same plane as you, one of which does weak damage and immediately ceases operation the instant you dash.  Another was that the game felt more like a fan project than a full fledged title (Pong?  One of the bosses is Pong?  Are you serious?).  The boss battles are simple pattern based affairs.  I understand doing this with limited resources, whether the hardware or the coders just don’t have the resources to implement an actual AI (I admit I’m guilty of this myself).  But the staffing and platforms meant that something more advanced than a simple clockwork battle could be done.  And it wasn’t.  It’s understandable and excusable when it’s some singular bloke working out of his garage and eating ramen for weeks to save money for the listing fees, not so for something that raises $4 mil on Kickstarter and still secures outside funding.

Speaking of fan games, the game makes use of waaaaaaaaaay too much artificial difficulty.  When you employ artificial difficulty, you need to have a point where you are done jerking the player around and let them continue.  Mighty No. 9 blithely ignores this, with precision jumping, sudden dialog that drowns out the enemy’s tells, environmental effects that obscure your view for no reason, enemies that are colored and move with the background so you aren’t sure what is a threat and what is decoration (the highway level), a weapon that can’t be targeted and simply moves around at random, a hidden health power up that is not only guarded but the way out has a mine that negates whatever boost you get, and no checkpoints.

The game’s storyline also deserves scorn.  Ultimately, you have a father/authority figure who is only a good guy because we are told he is and a noble person who is evil because we are told he is.  Dr. White’s dad saves the world from his son’s mistake, and Dr. White is content to not only let him take the blame and rot in prison, but to continue to do what he wants without considering the possible ramifications of his actions as long as it demonstrates his genius.  It is the worst implementation of game design and narrative since Team Ninja whiffed on Metroid:  Other M.

Oh, and good work designing Call so that, when she bends over to crawl, her skirt displays her panties.  You fuckers are sick.  I see you guys at Comcept were involved in ReCore, a game I really wanted to succeed because I like the guys from Retro Studios.  How many of the game’s problems came from you?  The game has more padding than my prom date’s bra.

See you next year.  Spoiler alert:  I have a funny feeling Metal Gear Survive will be popping up.  Will it?  Stay tuned…..

The Stupidity Is Strong With This One

Internet meme I was sent:  "You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sort of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say we are the ones who need help?"  -- The Watsons

...uh, no, asshole.  I have NEVER said Atheists or any other religion need help just because they don't believe in the Bible.  So take you sweeping generalizations and shove them up your ass.  Oh, and bonus points if you do it while saying how tolerant and open minded you are compared to Christians.

Start The Revolution Without Me

Back a long time ago, when I was in high school, I was kind of a peacenik.  I had embraced a liberal philosophy of peace, equality, and understanding.  I took stances against the death penalty and in favor of pubic aid.  Still some things I needed to work on accepting, but that was the foundation.

One day, between classes at school, a fight broke out between two girls.  I don’t remember who they were, I don’t remember exactly why they fought other than it was something ultimately trivial — it wasn’t like one of them, say, shot the other’s pa.  It was a catfight, resembling more of a lousy wrestling match than an actual battle.  And every student in the hallway had stopped and formed a human arena to watch what was happening, plenty of room for the combatants to be mean to each other without risking getting involved themselves.

Well, I was a peacenik, I though this was wrong, and I decided to try to get involved.  I told them, not yelled, but told them to stop and went behind the one on top to try and remove her.  Didn’t work.  After a little while, teachers showed up, and not wanting to be seen as an accessory to this, I faded back into the crowd and pulled my “Ninja, vanish!” routine.

I apparently did a good job.  Everyone was so glued to the action, no one really registered that I was there.  Even a friend of mine on the opposite side of the fight seemed to forget about me.  When we discussed the fight and mentioned I was trying to break them up, he asked, “That was YOU?”

Yeah.  Why?

One of the girls “said she felt someone trying to pull her off and she was ready to turn around and punch him.”

Perspective thus gained, it colored my actions about a year later when another fight broke out in the halls.  It erupted almost right in front of me.  I simply picked up my book bag, declared, “Let ‘em fight,” and walked away.

So what is the point of all this?  Why this little walk down memory lane?

Well, I felt it was time to make a statement.  I miss writing opinion pieces.  Really, I do.  I followed the news and events and enjoyed examining and finding things in the middle of it all.  Be we are coming up on the one year anniversary of my decision to stop writing commentary pieces.  It’s an itch I refuse to scratch.

Before, any breaks I’ve taken were pretty short.  Like a boxer who just needs to catch his breath before getting back in the ring.  But this one is sticking.  I will sometimes find myself applying my thought processes and such, but before I sit down and start typing, I ask myself, “Will tis actually reach anyone?”  And the answer is no.

People don’t want discourse and exploration.

They want to fight.

Over the past few years, social hypocrisy has gone from an infection to a contagion.  And I’m not talking about the alt-right picking on minorities or the regressive left picking on white men.  EVERYONE is acting like monsters.  EVERYONE is behaving abominably.  And they will continue to do so until their perceived blood debts, born of the savagery of primitive days, is paid in full.

I blame the Internet for this.  No kidding.  We have given rise to a world of people who have opinions not because the thoughts and philosophy make sense, but because having those opinions makes them feel good about themselves.  I will see people who will declare, “Well, I think we should treat all people equally and with respect.”  And I respond with, And?  But there’s no further message.  They have said something and expect to be praised for having such an intelligent, progressive ideal.  Consider freedom of speech — there are people that I disagree with, and am sometimes enraged by, but all I can do is shrug because, they have the right to speak their mind, just like I do.  I can’t censor them without the very reasoning behind those actions being used against me.  But that puts me in the minority.  There are people all over, liberal and conservative, who will gladly curtail others expression because it bothers them in the name of freedom of speech, but if you try to shut them up, you are oppressing them and trying to keep the truth from getting out.

This, “It’s okay when I do it but not when you do it,” has given resulted in complete social chaos.  The reason I’m writing this now is because of a scandal that has erupted over a guy who created a “body positive” website.  Girls, and I mean girls — almost all of them are underage, most just barely in their teens — will send pictures of themselves in underwear or bikinis for him to upload to his site and tell them how they need to gain or lose weight to achieve the ideal body.  This is unbelievably creepy, and despite his fame, no one said anything about it until about a week ago.  And it’s still smaller commentators, none of the big names are stepping up and condemning the guy.  And his supporters are hypocrites, too.  He proclaims to be a feminist and has a wife who claims to be trans, and despite an entire web site that objectifies girls and is possibly illegal due to the ages of the girls there, NOT ONE OF THEM CRITICIZES HIM.  In fact, they will attack you as a hater and try everything from public shaming to DDoS attacks if you call him out.

It all comes down to people thinking their perception is superior, and the conclusions are so obvious, anyone who doesn’t think like they do is a moron.  I have seen:

* Conservative commentators who talk about things like the wage gap not existing.  And when confronted with well-documented research, they have no counter and try to change the subject.  And yet, these people are rarely confronted with this research.  Usually, it’s whoever sits opposite them arguing vague philosophical points that just generate talk a step above white noise instead of exploring deeper.

* Alec Baldwin is loved by the gay community despite using gay slurs against people he doesn’t like in Tweets.

*  So-called “libertarians” who don’t mean, “Liberty for all,” but “Liberty for me.”  They want freedom to do what they want, regardless of impact or ramifications.  But if someone wants the opposite of whatever they have determined liberty is, they are fascists who must be stopped.

*  Conservatives talk about banning abortion because they value the sanctity of life, yet want to institutionalize the death penalty, which, at the very least, has some issues with the whole “sanctity of life” thing.

*  A person made a funny Internet picture showing Santa’s sleigh pulled by beer cans called “reinbeer” that gets a comment from someone complaining about all the drunk driving deaths at this time of year and he should be ashamed of himself.

*  I have been flat out told by more than one person that I was not welcome to participate in the Safety Pin movement because, as a white guy, I am a reminder of what these people have to fear and I have to keep my distance from their cause.  I have NEVER been told I can’t participate in a protest before for ANY reason.  Even during the Marriage Equality debate, no one turned me away because I was a Christian, they welcomed me because I supported their cause.  I refuse to support any cause that claims that judging someone by the color of their skin is bad but then will judge me by mine, regardless of my history with social causes.

*  I have also been told that I can’t play in a jazz band because that is the music of the slaves and it’s cultural appropriation, despite the fact that no one in the band or audience has a problem with it.

* I have been told that only Jews can eat bagels, if I eat them, it’s cultural appropriation.  1)  You are REINFORCING stereotypes with this, NOT DESTROYING THEM.  2)  Bagels were invented by the Poles, so I can eat all the goddamn bagels I want, fucker.

*  Atheists will say Christians are stupid and denying the obvious that God can’t exist, and will treat them as ignoring basic reason.  Christians will say Atheists are stupid and denying the obvious that God does exist, and will treat them as ignoring basic reason.  Both sides act like there is no possible way anyone intelligent can see anything other than what is so obvious to them, so these people must be either fixed or pitied and shunned.  And I get it from both sides, because Atheists don’t get me (one of them, when I told her I was Christian, flat out said to me, “I thought you were smarter than that”) and Christians think my conclusions like God meaning for gays to exist and they are part of His plan are heresy.  They bitch about the existence of the other side, not the right and wrong that they both do.

Notice there is a lot of pointlessness here.  No actual humanity or public policy, just a lot of, “This is what I think, aren’t I so smart and wonderful and better than you?”  I want to remind you of the definition of a democracy.  Democracy is not, “Majority rules.”  Democracy is a set of mutually agreed upon laws so that people can do as they wish without interference — as long as what you are doing doesn’t interfere with someone else, you are free to do it.  You want to fill your bathtub with garbage and lie in it?  You’re disgusting, but go for it.  But there’s a problem with this philosophy.  It directly contradicts the ideas of mandate, majority rule, and political power.  People don’t want to live their own way, they want the world to alter and bend to their vision.  They want the world to be their own personal theme park, reflecting their own values and conclusions and pushing those things they don’t like outside the metaphorical walls.

And EVERYBODY is fighting to claim the space.  I have dropped more than half of the commentators I used to read just because they are advancing a vision instead of an idea.

And I’m back in high school.  People have spent so long having their thoughts and conclusions amplified by the Internet and reinforced by Like buttons and personal armies in the comment sections, it has bled over into the real world.  And everyone has formed their little cliques, singled out their easy targets to oppose, and are ready for anything they can seize on to justify their hatred and actions while ignoring the real problems.

And nothing is going to dissuade them.  Like those girls, they don’t care about the consequences, they don’t care who they hurt.  They want to fight.  They want to cause pain.  They want to dominate.  They want to stand proud that they weren’t afraid to go over the line, insulated from guilt by the purity and superiority of their mindset.

I will probably get back into activism and commentary someday.  It’s in my blood, I can no more deny it than I can anything else about me.  But right now, people don’t want to hear any of that.  They are hunting for targets.  The bright side of this is that, eventually, the two sides will take each other out, leaving those that want to live in harmony as all that’s left.  Right now, those people are hiding away from the march of the armies as they fight their wars.  But eventually, the world will look to the normal and the good to rebuild social interaction and help others.

But until then?

Let ‘em fight.  And I’m walking away.

Just A Quick Reminder

Peter G's Political Rule #1 -- Anytime any law is passed, someone somewhere is making money.

Peter G's Political Rule #2 -- Never trust anyone that, 250 years ago, would have been a Tory.

Region Locked And Loaded

On the phone with my buddy Chester.  Keep in mind, he's a cutting edge gamer, has been as long as I've known him.  I'm considerably more retro, obviously.

Several years ago, for one Christmas, the gang decided to treat me to something really really special.  They had found a copy of the Sailor Moon game for the Sega Mega Drive in Japan.  Chester had played imported Mega Drive games on his Genesis plenty of times before, and figured there was nothing to it.  However, the game was developed and released shortly after Sega started region-locking their games.  So it caught me and everyone else by surprise when I got a screen telling me the game could only be played on a Japanese Mega Drive.  I never got rid of the game -- it's a gift from some of my closest friends, after all, and it was the thought that counted.  But I'm a software guy, not a hardware guy.  And back then, I didn't even know what to do with a soldering iron, so modding my Genny with a region switch was out.

Now that Crystal has put Sailor Moon back in the fandom consciousness, apparently one of them remembered the game.  So Chester calls me up.  "Hey, Peter!  Listen -- those Genesis clones they sell at the Dollar Store.  Are they region locked?"

Nope.  Depending on the model, some even come with a region switch built in.

"...how do you know which ones have it?"

Have to look around online and check with the heads.

"Do you know if those have the switch?"

...wait, you still have Mega Drive games laying around?  I thought you dumped them.

"...well, it's actually for you.  So you can finally play your Sailor Moon game.  You still have it, don't you?"

Of course.

"Well, we thought this would enable you to play it."

Those atGames units are horrible.  They play by emulation, and the tones are completely off.  I would advise against it.

"We really thought we had a way for you to do it.  We tried looking for a Mega Key, but we heard they were crap."

They are.  They are prone to breaking easily, and super expensive to boot.

"...well, know anybody with a reasonably priced one?"


"...what's that?"

That's the code you enter into a Game Genie to disable the region lock on the Genny Sailor Moon game.

"...I'm guessing you've played it a few times since you know the code off the top of your head."


....just making sure they didn't waste their money on a lousy region disabler.  Those things really were shit.

Book 'em, Dano

I saw this while Christmas shopping just now, and all I could think was, "Is this asshole serious?!?"

I Don't Believe This....

Actual Twitter post --  "Nate of Americans should go back to Indianapolis.  So sick of immigration."

no title


C2E2 has announced a new guest signing autographs.  The first Guardians Of The Galaxy sighting of the year in Chicago.  Michael Rooker, who plays Yondu, is going to be there.

This weekend, I will code a fandom wank Guardians Of The Galaxy game.  My Deadpool and Sailor Moon games have a little more competition for the Crown Jewels position in my collection.....

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