Sibling has a new last name now due to the marriage. I just received an e-mail from her new e-mail address but had no idea who it was from.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Sibling has a new last name now due to the marriage. I just received an e-mail from her new e-mail address but had no idea who it was from.
Friday, February 29, 2008
So I've been thinking about video games lately, as I am wont to do, and I've been paying particular attention, thanks in no small part to the conversation we've been having about Quick Time Events, to the phenomenon of how the player understands his role in the game world via the actions he is permitted to perform, and what it would mean to subvert it.
In an arcade there is often little to no overarching logic behind many of the games, yet the player is able to construct purely from context what his goals are supposed to be. By playing Space Invaders, a player, through experimental interaction with his controls, should quickly deduce that he is supposed to move some sort of artillery back and forth while firing on the "Space Invaders", and if he succeeds, he'll do it again, but with a tighter time constraint, and if he fails, the game will ultimately end. He doesn't need to question why it is that he's shooting down Invaders, nor does he have to consider what it is that his avatar represents, he simply tests the limits of his powers as encoded into the game, and coming from his own ability, and concludes that he is supposed to shoot all the Invaders down.
Most of us here, having played all sorts of video games, have compiled a set of expectations regarding different kinds of games. We probably no longer need to experiment with controls and rules for long before we settle in to the role intended by the designer, and then spend our time focusing on achieving the goals appropriate to the role. We approach games as being a member of a genre, which entails certain expectations, and we quickly understand our relationship to the game without necessarily ever questioning it.
These expectations are sometimes subverted, The Longest Journey and Chrono Cross come immediately to mind as games that rely on the player's preconception of their role in the game, and then betrays it in a plot twist which should cause the player to reflect on why it is that they were so blinded by convention that they couldn't predict this inevitability.
One thing I think games could do to become art is to explore this idea more fully; to take that set of expectations we've built up regarding games and then force us to reflect on what they mean. To borrow from the list of RPG cliches, why do we accept all rumors as true in games? Why do we essentially steal from other people under their very noses? Why do we accept certain weapon and armor choices for our characters as being practical? How can we maintain contradictory attitudes toward death, with the notions between "in-battle" death being so different in impact than an "in-cutscene" death? Granted there are games that include false rumors and practical weapons and meaningful deaths, but I think those games simply avoid the issue just as completely as games that rely on the cliches, so why not make a game that is about answering these questions? Progress Quest, I think, is a good example of something like this. It's essentially a (non) game that addresses the somewhat mechanical and ultimately meaningless process of "leveling up". When one considers what it means to be a high level in PQ, I think one should likewise consider what it means in any other game.
Just some thoughts.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
I'd like to thank MSNBC for publishing this article about Born-Again Virgins. You see, this week nothing has really pissed me off enough to merit a true rant, an actual rant, a genuine rant. I've had to feign rant, pretend that I was ranting. I had to present my writings as a rants when actually they were not in fact rants. My rants so far this week were faux rants, writings presented to be one thing but in actuality were something else.
See what I did there?
Born-Again Virginity is, for me, a hybrid ranting topic. It combines religion, sex, semantics, and pure unfiltered stupidity in an inescapably infuriating manner. It is a perfect, untarnished, untouched form of stupidity. Revirginization is undoubtedly the most perfect form of "having one's cake and eating it too", or, to put it more appropriately, "having one's hymen and breaking it too".
To understand why revirginization is so idiotic we must first discuss sex. Due to our hyper-accepting society our definition of sex is stuck in an infinite regress; we know where the definition starts but we do not know where it stops. If a male puts his penis into a female's vagina that is sex; few would argue this point. But where "sex" stops is unclear. A tongue in a vagina? A finger in a vagina? A penis in a mouth? Two penises rubbing against each other? Two vaginas rubbing against each other? A finger in an ass? Two fingers rubbing against one another? Sitting on a couch with someone?
As a result of trying to accommodate everyone, of structuring our definitions so that we do not leave anyone out, we are left with a fluid and lubricated definition of sex which never settles at one spot but constantly wraps, entwines, and thrusts itself into various orifices of possibility. We are left unable to rigidly define sex and rather have a very flaccid and loose definition. But this is fine.
Pick whichever definition of sex you like. Alright. Once two people have done that they are, by definition, no longer virgins (or, technically, a woman is no longer a virgin and a male is no longer chaste). They have had sex. Given how time works once two people have sex they cannot have not had sex.
And this is the hard, rigid, unbending line with which revirginization enthusiasts take issue. They attempt to manipulate the rigid line, lubricate the unbending line, jostle and toy with the unbending line to the point where the line becomes spent and no longer resists them. They wish to have their way with the definition of "virgin" so that the term is meaningless while at the same time meaningful.
Is there some justification for the idea of revirginization? Is there a solid foundation upon which one might erect a strong argument? Let's look at the argument of Victoria Watts from the MSNBC article:
"So Watts engaged in a lot of prayer and thought, and now declares herself a virgin once again. “The most important thing was to realize what my values were and what I want in the future and the bigger goals in my life," she says. "That’s why I can call myself a renewed virgin.”"
Prayer and thought have nothing to do with virginity; virginity is not that sort of thing. But more frustrating than the "I prayed a lot and now I'm a virgin again" argument from idiocy is the lack of self-awareness people have who utilize such an argument.
By their own admissions, through their own actions, they have declared virginity to be a meaningful binary state. To recapture one's virginity that virginity must have been lost. To revirginize one must devirginize, so to speak. If one maintains that virginity is a binary state (an implicit admission) and one maintains that virginity is a meaningful state of existence (an implicit admission given their desire to recapture it) then by their own arguments revirginization is impossible.
Pull any definition of "virgin" from your proverbial sack. Utilize any definition of "virgin" for which you have a hard-on. Snatch any definition you like. Is virginity physical? Is virginity emotional? Is virginity physiological? These distinctions do not matter so long as virginity is maintained to be meaningful. There is no way by which virginity can be regained once it is lost given what it is to lose one's virginity.
Now, do not fail to understand me. I am not making the argument of the Pregnancy Resource Center:
"Have you already unwrapped the priceless gift of virginity and given it away? Do you now feel like 'second-hand goods' and no longer worthy to be cherished? Do you ever wish you could re-wrap it and give it only to your future husband or wife?"
I am not arguing that virginity is some priceless gift to be saved for one's wedding night. I am not arguing that people who have sex are somehow flawed or "used goods". I am not arguing that one ought use a "wrapped box" metaphor for one's sexuality.
My firm and unbending point is that virginity once lost cannot be regained given how time works, what words mean, and what virginity signifies. Once one has sex one is no longer a virgin (or, for males, chaste). That's how it works. To argue otherwise is lunacy, ignorance, and doltish delusion.
You cannot unfuck yourself.
But what if revirginization is possible? What if one can become a virgin again? Well, were that possible we would have to ask what it is to be a virgin. If "virgin" means "has not had sex" and one has had sex then, well, revirginization is an idiotic delusion maintained by shitheads. But if "virgin" means something other than "has not had sex" then we must assess the rigid criteria by which "virginity" is established and delve into the meaning behind the notion of virginity. We must sniff around and probe the depths of virginity, so to speak.
And, personally? I don't mind doing that.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The trailer for Be Kind, Rewind hooked me. The idea of a film consisting of cleverly if shoddily done remakes of well-known movies was, I thought, a good one. I went to see Rewind on Saturday, and I still agree with myself. A film consisting of clever if shoddily done remakes of well-known movies would be a good idea, but as my careful wording will probably lead you to guess: Rewind is not that film.
It starts out silly and a little cliche, then breaks into the movie remake routine and is fun and entertaining, then suddenly gets unabashedly cliche before ending with what is, for me, one of the best and most sincere expressions of what movie lovers believe to be true about the art. It wasn't until that ending sequence that I started to appreciate the movie for what it was: a celebration of movies and movie making.
I'm afraid I'll need to see it again with that in mind before I can say anything else conclusive, but after one viewing I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the ending, and I haven't seen a movie so misrepresented by its trailer since Phantom Menace.
Posted by MA17 at 9:30 PM
So last week Zero Punctuation was featured at the Game Developer's Conference. It was also announced that Zero Punctuation would be featured on G4's X-Play.
This week the jackoffs in the Kotaku comment thread are ripping the new Zero Punctuation review apart, claiming that they were offended, and generally hating on Yahtzee.
While I have not seen this review for myself (I can't watch it at work) I'm pretty sure it is like every other Zero Punctuation review.
So how many of you think that the fresh hatred of Zero Punctuation comes from Yahtzee's "selling out" moreso than any actual failure on his part to do what he's always done?
I just thought I would take a moment to point out that despite what Bill Cunningham said on Hannity & Colmes, the picture leaked by the Clinton Campaign, Steve Doocy's fake news, and all of the other jackass stupid claims floating around on the internet Barak Obama is not, in fact, a terrorist.
And if you are one of those individuals who think that a black man with the middle name Hussein is a de facto terrorist, or a likely terrorist, or at all terroristic then please just shut the fuck up.
Sure, we can't prove a universal negative. So we cannot prove that Barak Obama is not a terrorist given how proof works. But by that same logic we cannot prove that Clinton is not a terrorist, that McCain is not a terrorist, that Huckabee is not a terrorist, that you are not a terrorist.
So cut out the passive, racist bullshit and just shut the fuck up.
This is why i have a facebook account. This showed up in my general RSS feed. I don't know if the link below will work, even with an account.
I Hate Yeager (not the drink, the man.)
I Hate Yeager (not the drink, the man.)
Type: Student Groups - General
This is a group designated to express the extreme hate that many students have towards Dean Yeager. It seems as though his whole purpose as an official of Hanover College is to ruin the "college experience" of Hanover's elite students. Now, we all know the point of going to college is to receive a higher education enabling us to function in the work force; but are you fucking kidding me? College is about getting shitfaced hammered at 2 in the afternoon on a Monday, then miraculously pulling off a B+ on your exam the next morning. But...no, Dean Yeager disagrees. It is his point to expell as many partying, fun-having students as possible from a so-called "esteemed institution" and place probationary statuses on all that he is unable to expell from the institution. So, if you share the same hate for Dean Yeager as we do, join. Comments are more than welcome.
Dr. David Yeager
517 Ball Dr.
Last Week: Danny Berger, banished from Hanover College.
Early January: Josh Juett and Jordan Hobbs, placed on probationary status with the institution. Action on Hobbs, still pending.
November 2007: Bryce Handy, banished from the institution.
2006-2007: Zach Van Huss and Chad Paden, banished from the institution.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television" provides a delightful analysis of our idiotic segregation of language and the notion of a "bad word". The heart of the rant, I think, is the following:
"Yeah, there are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven of them that you can't say on television. What a ratio that is. 399,993 to seven. They must really be bad. They'd have to be outrageous, to be separated from a group that large."
While I have some friends (or at this point they may just be "people I knew in college who no longer talk to me") who do not use certain words I've never heard a reasonable explanation for why some words are socially acceptable, good and proper words for use in daily conversation while others are dreadful abominations of language. I understand that I cannot say "fuck" at work, but I've never been given a sensible reason for why this is. It is just one of those aspects of society that our mommies and daddies taught us. As I am still confused, though, I shall present my question in the following condensed manner:
What the fuck is the difference between crap, shit, and poop?
Take, for example, the exclamations, "Oh crap!", "Oh shit!", and "Oh poop!". What are the differences between these three exclamations?
Oh poop!: This seems to be a more juvenile and childish exclamation.
Oh crap!: This seems to be a socially acceptable exclamation that one could say inside of, say, a church.
Oh shit!: This seems to be an exclamation that which is not socially acceptable.
Fundamentally, though, they are all the same. They are variations upon the exclamation "Oh no!"; they are exclamations uttered when something bad happens. But what is the difference between the three? Crap, Shit, and Poop all reference the same thing: excrement. So what is the difference between these words? What makes "crap" socially acceptable while "shit" is not?
For that matter what is the difference between "fucked" and "screwed", "darn" and "damn", "gosh" and "god", "hell" and "heck"?
Each of these expressions fulfill the same utility within our speech. "I'm fucked" and "I'm screwed" mean the same thing, convey the same notion. So why is "screwed" acceptable while "fucked" is not? Why would someone say "heck" rather than "hell"?
Obviously our problem is not with the communication of any given situation or idea. If an individual is in a situation in which they are screwed/fucked we have no problem with them communicating their predicament. The concern we have is for how they communicate. If a person were to say "What the heck?" there would be no problem yet "What the hell?" is somehow problematic. But, again, what is the difference?
The answer is not "the words themselves". There is not some link between the noise we make when we say "fuck", the letters used to compose the word "fuck", and the dreadful nature of the word "fuck". The words shit, crap, and poop are not somehow dynamically different so denoting the degree to which either is appropriate in any given situation; one could not objectively analyze any of these words outside of the social context in which they exist and somehow discover which is socially acceptable and which is not.
So what the god-damned fucking hell is the difference, then?
Wittgenstein described language as a language-game. Wittgenstein dismissed the idea of words as boats, of a fashion, which are used to transport ideas from one's mind to the mind of another and rather discussed language in terms of the language-game, the social construct.
This, I think, is the answer to the question of difference. There really is no difference between shit, crap, and poop unto the words themselves but rather the difference is found in the arbitrary rules constructed by those who use the language. "Shit" was decided to be less acceptable than "crap" which is more mature than "poop". "Heck" was created to fill in for "hell". "Screwed" takes the place of "fuck". "Gosh darn" serves the purpose of "God damn" without making anyone uncomfortable.
And when you think about it? When you realize that the only difference between crap, shit, and poop is that arbitrary designation? You relize that it's all incredibly god damned re-fucking-tarded.
Oops. I ought to have said, "gosh darned re-frickin-tarded" so as not to insult the shitheads.
There we go.
Monday, February 25, 2008
In Being and Time Heidegger describes various attitudes Dasein (beings of the human variety) have towards the things with which Dasein interact. Specifically, Heidegger makes a distinction between ready-to-hand and present-at-hand. The attitude usually maintained by Dasein towards things in the world is that of ready-to-hand. Ready-to-hand is an interaction with the view of achieving some desired end. Present-at-hand is an interaction in which Dasein stop and theorize about the object.
A common example is that of a car. The ready-to-hand attitude would be the normal attitude one has towards a car in which one drives the car to some location. One does not analyze the car or theorize about the car but rather one utilizes the car as a means of achieving some goal. A present-at-hand attitude towards a car would be the attitude one has when the car breaks, when the car stops working. The malfunctioning car draws our attention away from the goal of driving to the grocery store when we instead focus on the car itself.
This weekend my raiding guild in World of Warcraft effectively disbanded and collapsed. While I was ruminating on the collapse of the guild and pondering how I ought to respond I realized how the ready-to-hand / present-at-hand distinction influences the manner in which I, and presumably many others, understand and play World of Warcraft.
In many ways a guild, the members thereof, and the game itself are ready-to-hand, a means of achieving some end goal. When one embraces a goal within the game (obtaining loot, maximizing one's pvp ranking, etc.) then the guild to which one belongs, the characters with whom one plays, and the game itself become ready-to-hand, equipment used as a means of achieving the goal. The guild and its members flow with one's experience and become part of one's weekly schedule.
In this way World of Warcraft enters into one's sense of normalcy and one's weekly routine. As can be the case with a job, a girlfriend or boyfriend, or any other aspect of one's life one ceases to question or analyze the object or activity itself but rather accepts it as ready-to-hand, a means.
When something interrupts the normalcy as when a guild disbands, a server crashes, etc. the experience of World of Warcraft itself ceases to be ready-to-hand and becomes present-at-hand. This shift may allow a player to reassess the experience as a whole and question how one spend's one's time.
All that to say I think it is interesting how one can be engrossed in a game, a relationship, a hobby yet when one's attitude shifts and that object becomes present-at-hand rather than ready-to-hand one's overall view of the object can significantly change. While the thing itself may not change (WoW is still WoW) the attitude one has towards that thing can significantly change how one views the thing. When a raiding guild collapses and one's means of obtaining phat lootz is gone one loses the ready-to-hand guild, the means by which one raids, and is instead presented with a present-at-hand game. One may see the thing for what it is rather than what one previously understood it to be.
I do not think "better" applies to either present-at-hand or ready-to-hand; each have utility in their own way. Rather than fixate on which view is best I think it important to understand how significant one's attitude is in understanding the world in which we live. Also, it behooves us all to recognize another instance in which Heidegger is correct. Because Heidegger kicks ass.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Still Alive (from portal) is being added to Rock Band sometime soon.
Here is a video of Jonathan Coulton, Leo Leport, Merlin Mann and Veronica Belmont playing some rock band.
Jonathan Coulton performs "Still Alive" in Rock Band from Joy Stiq on Vimeo.