Saturday, September 20, 2008

Spaghetti [chat]

Sure, Spaghetti Cat is a month old at this point. It is the joke that keeps on giving. Also, I couldn't think of a funny GRE related joke and Jay is to drunk the post the new chat thread.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Announcing The ECCCS

Justin Philpot and myself, Mike Lewis, would like the announce The ECCCS, a new online journal for young academics interested in the study of contemporary culture. We have just officially launched our website, and will begin taking submissions in the next few weeks.

Right now we would like you all to take a look at the website, look at our mission statement and spread the word

You can find us online at our email address is you can follow us on twitter. You can also become friends with us on Facebook (search “the ecccs”)

The first part of the website as gone live, a blog called The Hallway. The Hallway is a blog that will look at current popular culture in interesting and thoughtful ways. If you would like to blog for us, application information is available at

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Life is Absurd

And that's pretty much it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

GALLUP POLL: Nation Poll on Jay's Jokes

"I hate Ike.
Still no power... and my car got scratched to hell by a limb that fell on it."
Now you know how Tina Turner feels.
In response to Jay's repeated telling of this joke, Gallup was commissioned by fellow Everyone is a Sith editor Mike Lewis to determine whether everyone else through this joke was not funny.

Gallup asked 300 people nation wide likely to hear Jay tell jokes. Here is what the poll found*.

Do you find this joke funny? yes/no
YES: 30% (90)
NO: 70% (210)

As one can see there is the overwhelming number of people feel that this joke is not funny. Now, lets go dig deeper into these numbers to find out if there is anything else they can tell us. The following questions were asked to people who DID find the joke funny.

Did you Get the joke?
Yes: 10%
No: 90%

Occupation of those who found the joke funny
Nascar Driver: 5%
TV and VCR repair man: 15%
Death Row inmate 80%**

Demographic breakdown

M: 75%
F: 25%

0-18: 45%
35+: 5%

Political Affiliation
Republican: 15%
Democrat 20%
Spendocract: 10%
Asshole: 65%

*There is a 6.3% Margin of error.
** All Death Row inmates also got the joke

Zero Punctuation: Spore

You do not desire STUFF.

"But human nature is that PEOPLE WANT STUFF."

That is not human nature.

It is not human nature to desire a Furby. The desire for Furbies is a social construct. The desire for Fast Cars is a social construct. The desire for iPods is a social construct. The desire for Tier 6 gear is a social construct. The desire for particular Magic Cards, Warhammer figures, candy, puppies, etc. is a social construct.

Human beings seek happiness as opposed to sadness, fulfillment as opposed to emptiness. But "STUFF" is not that fundamental human desire. "STUFF" is what capitalist societies offer as a means of "filling the void", so to speak, a means of finding happiness, completion. What compels people to purchase items in a capitalist society is the propagated lie that property = happiness, that acquisition of items manifests a feeling of happiness, that a metaphysical human completion can be found in material items.

Look at the transition of certain people from WoW to Warhammer. It is not the case that these people truly desired those items in WoW which, four or five months ago, they would have stated that they desired. Rather, there was a fundamental sense of desire, a fundamental longing, which they sought to quench through WoW. The quenching of this fundamental desire was not possible and so they are going to Warhammer to, inevitably, find themselves in the same situation eventually.

Think of your own experience. You really wanted a X. Then you got a X. That X was cool for a while. But, then you grew tired of it. The X was not as cool as it once was. The novelty wore off. Your "desire changed". The fad ended. But in truth none of these explanations are accurate. Rather, your fundamental desire, that quintessential human quality of longing for completion was not met by the material object you obtained, as it never will be.

That's the philosophical problem with the perception people have of human nature when existing within capitalist societies. In truth, human beings do not desire Furbies, fast cars, phat lootz, big houses, pools, etc. Human Beings desire fulfillment, happiness, completion. What capitalist societies do is actualize a clever trick of convincing people that material objects, jobs, relationships, STUFF will fulfill that desire.

Observe how compelled people are to argue that human beings have a desire for stuff, that happiness and completion can be found in material objects. Thousands of people think this. But they are confused; their actions indicate this. If human beings desired Furbies then desire would cease once a Furby is obtained and for so long as that Furby is possessed. If human beings desired Tier 6 gear they would not stop playing WoW. If human beings found completion, happiness, in the house they purchased at time X they would never move.

It's all a matter of that confusion marketing manifests in people. Human beings seek completion, seek happiness. Capitalist societies utilize that fundamental desire by presenting material goods, "STUFF", as a means of satiating that desire. Capitalism convinces people that they can buy their way to happiness, that the fundamental human longing can be filled with puppies and tier 6 gear and Furbies and Sprite. Hell, to be more accurate, capitalism convinces people that there is no fundamental longing for happiness or completion but rather there are particular desires for particular cars, particular games, particular beverages.

But we know it is a lie. We know that we cannot find happiness, fulfillment, in material possessions. Our lives are proof to the contrary!

One plays Diablo II and then goes on to WoW. One plays Magic and then goes on to Warhammer or Poker. One buys a dog, and then a cat, and then fish, and then a ferret. One has a child, and then another, and then another. One finds a significant other and then has an affair. You are seeking something; human beings are each seeking something. But that which you seek will never be fulfilled by material STUFF.

You know it's true. Your life is proof of this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

McCain, Lehman Brothers, Donald Luskin and DUMB

"Lehman Brothers, burdened by $60 billion in soured real-estate holdings, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after attempts to rescue the 158-year-old firm failed."

The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should. - John McCain

So what does John McCain think of the collapse of Lehman Brothers?

And then you get people like Donald Luskin saying shit like this:

Things today just aren't that bad. Sure, there are trouble spots in the economy, as the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and jitters about Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers, amply demonstrate. And unemployment figures are up a bit, too. None of this, however, is cause for depression -- or exaggerated Depression comparisons.
Which is terrific, especially if you read on in the article to see what Donald Luskin thinks the real problem is:
Patient zero in this epidemic is the Democratic candidate for president. As it would be for any challenger, it's in his interest to portray the incumbent party's economic performance in the grimmest possible terms. Barack Obama has frequently used the Depression exaggeration, including during a campaign speech in June, when he said that the "percentage of homes in foreclosure and late mortgage payments is the highest since the Great Depression." At best, this statement is a good guess. To be really true, it would have to be heavily qualified with words such as "maybe" or "probably."

"heavily qualified with the word 'probably'."

What the fuck is wrong with these people?

WOTLK Release Date: 11/13/08

It's all kinda Offical.

Though, this is Blizzard we're talking about. So even though they paid someone to Photoshop this nice advertisement together I still won't believe it for a while.

Also, the Collector's Edition has been Detailed. Worthy of note?

"An exclusive in-game pet: Frosty, the baby frost wyrm."

Frosty Returns!

Tina Fey : Sarah Palin :: Amy Poehler : Hillary Clinton

Tina Fey is hot.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Harry Potter and the Shitty Ending

For the past few weeks I've been reading through the Harry Potter septology again. I've gone through about half a book a day (on good days), trying to condense the experience into as short a time as possible while still affording myself time to do my schoolwork and wank off. After cramming through the series (to the best of my abilities) this is my assessment:

Deathly Hallows is a shitty ending.

Yes, the book itself is good. It has enough quality, compelling story to get one through the shit. And even though the story lurches between it's repetition of "lull - angst - action" the action is invigorating enough to have made the lull and angst worth the time spent reading the pages. Deathy Hallows has character development, fills out the story, has that one part where I have to put the book down and walk away because I'm crying too much, and an ending climax which is BEST.

But as an ending to the series? It blows more goats than Aberforth.*

The main story ends with that terrific climactic battle and a nice wrapping up of the titular devices. Fine. But then that's it. There are no more pages. Yes, we get that crappy "19 years later" thing but that is little more than a list of names. We don't really know what happens to the degree that we know what happened after the other books in the series. The best comparison I can think of is the difference between Return of the Jedi and Return of the King...which I've just now realized have strikingly similar titles.

Anyway, Return of the Jedi ends with the death star blowing up and Ewoks dancing. And in terms of an ending to the Star Wars Saga that's fine; the ending compliments the structure of the storyline. The entire character development, story, plot, and focus of the series was on blowing up Death Stars, on overcoming the Empire. We aren't ever really led to give a shit about anything given how narrow the narrative is.

Contrast that with Return of the King. After The One Ring is destroyed we still get a shit ton of pages flushing out the rest of the narrative. Checking quickly, I find that The One Ring is destroyed on page 249 and the story ends on page 347. And then Appendix A starts and goes on to page 481. So they destroy The One Ring and then we get 200 pages of more shit.

Now, Compare that to Deathly Hallows. The battle ends on Page 743. The story ends on 749. And then we get that "19 years later" bullshit chapter.

As a book? Deathly Hallows is fine. But as an ending to the story of Harry Potter Deathy Hallows is fucking abysmal. The manner in which the story ends does not cohere with the manner in which the narrative was presented throughout the septology. After investing so many pages in these characters, in fleshing out their relationships and motivations and characteristics the only real answers and ending we get is "what the fuck was up with that Harry - Voldemort thing" and "what the fuck was up with Dumbledore". That's it.

And it doesn't even match the other books in the series. In every other book we get that section which comes after the climax. The section in which Harry and Dumbledore have their little chat and the "going back to Privet Drive" section. The books end leading into one another. But Deathly Hallows just stops. We don't get to see the fallout; the consequences; the impact the climax had on the world at large. It's just "yup, he's dead" and that's that.**

Harry Potter is a narrative fleshed out to the degree of Lord of the Rings, but what we get at the end is Return of the Jedi, not Return of the King. And that is frustrating. After building up these characters and after spending all of this time reading about them I want to know what happens. To put it bluntly: I care about more than Harry, Voldemort, and Dumbledore.

That's really the problem with Deathly Hallows as an ending to the Harry Potter series: It only addresses Harry, Voldemort, and Dumbledore and those aspects of characters which impact the Harry, Voldemort, Dumbledore story. All of these other characters are simply brushed aside. And that's bullshit.

*I kind of cringed inside when I wrote that.
**I used a pronoun so that the "zomg spoilers" assholes couldn't bitch about me spoiling anything.

Drunken Warhammer Ranting

So I'm drunk, angry, have not written a rant in a while, and my raid was just canceled because we could not get enough people. These things combined provide an excellent opportunity for me to bitch about how much I fucking hate Warhammer Online.

What an MMO is:
Perhaps the best starting point is a definition of what an MMO is. An MMO is a context in which one can be better than others. In the same way, all "games", in some sense, are contexts in which to be better than others: contexts of competition which strives for "better". Chess as a context, othello as a context, D&D as a context, Guitar Hero as a context, are all contexts maintained by their ability to afford an individual an access to "better". In WoW, as with all MMOs, for example, the context provides an opportunity for being better than other players. One does what is required to amass gear so affording themselves opportunitites to amass even better gear. The end, of course, not being the acquisition of better gear but rather the acquisition of bragging rights, a degree of being "better", the opporutnity to lord one's accomplishments over the less accomplished.

This is what an MMO is, what games are.

Warhammer Online is just another MMO
Warhammer Online, as with all MMOs, is simply a new context for being better than other players, another contextual opportunity for bragging rights. As with World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online is simply little more than another context of carrots and sticks, hoops and rewards. The stick is quests and amassing pvp derived currency, the carrot is gear. The hoop is struggling to obtain PvP objectives, RvR accomplishments, and the reward is gear. Warhammer Online is fundamentally the same thing as WoW, as Dark Age of Camelot, as Asheron's Call, as Everquest: It is simply a new context in which to be better than other players. Any innovation which occurs in the Warhammer model is not indicative of some fundamental shift but rather a reinterpretation of the hoops through which one must jump to be better than other players. The fixation on PvP rather than PvE is not novel, is not new but rather is a new stick for a new carrot.

Why I hate Warhammer Online
Warhammer Online : Vanilla :: World of Warcraft : Chocolate. These games are not fundamentally different, as Vanilla and Chocolate are not fundamentally different. Rather, they are both twists on the same god damned thing; they are both context for being better than others each with their own sticks and carrots, hoops and rewards. Yet Warhammer proports to be something different. But it is NOT! Yes, Warhammer fixated on PvP moreso than PvE, but that fixation is little more than new paint on the WoW, Everquest, DOAC, Asheron's Call, MMO model of gameplay. It's THE SAME GOD DAMNED FUCKING THING ALL OVER AGAIN! It is not NEW but rather is a reinterpretation. It is chocolate to vanilla, ICE CREAM to ICE CREAM.

My Frustration
What is frustrating about Warhammer is that people who previously played WoW leave WoW for Warhammer. Which is fine. But their reasons for leaving make no god damned sense once one realizes that Warhammer is the same thing as WoW, it is ice cream just as WoW is ice cream, it is a context for "better" just as WoW is a context for better. It is the same god damned thing.

Yet, after accomplishing much in WoW players are compelled to leave WoW for Warhammer, to leave one set of sticks and carrots, hoops and rewards, to seek out a new set of hoops and rewards, to start over at the very beginning after having made accomplishments in WoW.

And that does not make any god damned sense.

We already have a context for defining "better", we already have ice cream. Why leave Chocolate for Vanilla? Why leave WoW for Warhammer? Once one recognizes that the games are fundamentally the same fucking thing whence the compulsion to switch? Why start over? After having made progress in WoW why leave? Why force one's self to jump throught a new set of hoops, to overcome new sticks for new carrots? Given that they are the same thing why not stick with the context with which one is already familiar?

Why leave Chocolate for Vanilla when one is still eating ice cream?! Why force one's self to start over rather than progress in the context one has already entered?

A Conclusion, I guess
Warhammer and WoW are not different any more than Chocolate and Vanilla are different. They are fundamentally the same thing. So, really, what's the point in starting over? Eventually that same problems manifest in WoW will manifest themselves in Warhammer. Just as one left WoW so, too, will one leave Warhammer one day. Once one recognizes this, once one accepts the fundamental truth that all MMOs are simply reintepreations of the same thing, why leave one for another? Why repeat history? Warhammer will eventually be just as boring as WoW given that they are the same damn thing. So if you're going to keep playing MMOs why change and not stick with WoW?

I can understand leaving the realm of MMOs for something else once one recognizes that all MMOs are fundamentally the same thing reinterpretated over the years. I can understand no longer consuming ice cream once one has one's fill of ice cream. But leaving WoW for Warhammer, leaving Chocolate for Vanilla? That is little more than short-sigted idiocy based upon some sort of moronic illusion that these things are somehow different when they are fundamentally the same thing.

If one is tired of Ice Cream stop eating Ice Cream. If one is tired of MMOs stop playing MMOs. But don't leave WoW for Warhammer, don't stop eating Chocolate to eat Vanilla.

That's just stupid.