Saturday, July 30, 2011

Anders [chat]ring Breivik

Oslo Terrorist used WoW as cover

As preparations for what are essentially terrorist operations can raise suspicions, typically over one's lack of money or time spent away from friends and family, Breivik suggests that "using social taboos is an extremely effective method from preventing people who know you well from digging too much." One such taboo is an obsession with World of Warcraft.

"F[or] example, tell them that you have started to play World of Warcraft or any other online MMO game and that you wish to focus on this for the next months/year," Breivik writes. "This "new project" can justify isolation and people will understand somewhat why you are not answering your phone over long periods. Tell them that you are completely hooked on the game (raiding dungeons etc)."

Ergo, all WoW players are terrorists.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

John Boehner: We in the house said not so fast.

It just angers up the blood.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Modus Tollens and WoW Achievements

In an effort to perpetuate my chastity I spent a chunk of this weekend working on WoW achievements, one of which was Destruction Derby. This achievement requires that one destroy four types of vehicles in a particular battleground. After destroying three of the required vehicles I then focused upon destroying Siege Engines, something of a pain in the ass given that Horde captures the Siege Engine spawning zone in around 87% of matches and bla bla you don’t care about these details at all.

I destroy two of the damn things, and do not receive credit for doing so. This irks me, so I submitted a GM ticket. Herein shall be found part of that conversation:

GM: The big question I have it - when you were attacking the Siege Engine, did you get the killing blow?

Me: In both cases I dps'd through the final percents, but I do not know how to tell if I had the killing blow. Other than some kind of modus tollens induction.

GM: Ok. Unfortunately I can't tell either. :( And now I need to steal modus tollens for myself in casual conversation, thank you.

GM: There are a few reports about this achievement, but mostly the credit for it is centered around that killing blow.

Me: Alright. So if I get the killing blow, then I get the achievement. I didn't get the achievement, therefore I didn't get the killing blow?

GM: That would be my conclusion for now. Unless you do it again and confirm that you got the killing blow., in which case we start over. :)

Me: Woo modus tollens.

GM: Yar.
Couple things. First, how cool is it that the GM is going to utilize ‘modus tollens’ in casual conversations now? Second, modus tollens is fucking bullshit especially with respect to computer programs within which bugs are not only possible, but are routinely found. “But wait!” you exclaim, “For what reason is it bullshit?” Well, here’s how modus tollens works:

If P, Then Q.
Not Q.
Therefore, Not P.


If I masturbate, then I orgasm.
I did not orgasm.
Therefore, I did not masturbate.

Fucking bullshit, right? I mean, sure, if one provides particular constraints on the causal relation, or sneaks in a poorly formed biconditional, then one can horseshit one’s way into making modus tollens kinda vaguely maybe reasonable to fuckheaded dipshits whose comprehension of deterministic causal relations would most mirror Shia Labeouf’s comprehension of fuck-all-anything, but no such constraints exist within reality, for one, and World of Warcraft, for a number other than one. The fact that I did not receive Destruction Derby tells me nothing about whether or not I landed a killing blow given the possibility of situations other than a tight biconditional relation between killing blows and achievement acquisition.

It is conceivable, nay, possible that one could fulfill the requirements for this achievement, could land a killing blow, and not receive the achievement as a result of a server flummox, a programming error, magic, or any number of other causal agents.

And all I’m saying is that maybe (maybe) modus tollens isn’t the best troubleshooting technique unless one happens to be understanding the totality of reality from an Archimedean Point.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cowboy Bebop - Session 7: Heavy Metal Queen

Heavy Metal Queen makes its case as an unusual episode immediately by opening with the sight of strangely long bulky ships pushing past each other in space to the unexpected tune of some thrashy metal. Compared to the series’ more traditional space-oriented openers in which sleek spaceships zip through colorful gates or drift unhurriedly through the stars as we listen to the low rumbling of engines and mellow jazz, this one seems to be taking us to a much louder, grungier, and more aggressive corner of the universe.

And although it may not seem so at first, it ends up being a corner that allows for a relatively lightweight palate cleanser of an episode as some relief after couple of dark and important ones. As always, there is more to the episode than what is on the surface, but still, just about the deepest question Queen has to ask is “hey, did you know there are space truckers?” This is just fine considering that we’ve had to shoot a child in the head and slit an old friend’s throat to get here.

The space trucker central to this episode is VT, a tough-looking woman with a strong distaste for bounty hunters accompanied by her cat Zeros and is – by way of her CB handle and taste in music – the eponymous Queen of Heavy Metal. The opening scenes in space conclude with some nicely understated exposition in the form of her docking at a truck stop and humoring an overconfident chump who quickly loses a few bucks in the long running game of trying to guess what her initials stand for. We get a small sense of her mysterious character in the way she adds his cash to the impressive stack of bills gathered, presumably, in small increments over the years from people who recognize her but don’t really know who she is.

After this, we follow VT into a little bar where we find a grouchy Spike, hungover and on the phone with Jet in a bathroom stall. They’re discussing this week’s bounty: an explosives expert / space trucker / Woody Allen look-alike named Decker. While Spike is complaining about not being able to get anywhere near guy, cut to Faye who is seconds away from spotting Decker at a diner appropriately called “Woody’s”.

The sequence that follows is another great example of how Faye’s sensual charm is effective only in a limited sense. As we see here and in her failure using similar tactics in Ballad of Fallen Angels, she has an undeniable power over men, but not all men, and certainly not over those directly relevant to her goals. In this case, she has no trouble whatsoever using her sex appeal to get the drop on the man she assumes to be Decker, but allows the real one to escape while doing so. Bad luck plays a significant role in this, granted, but the fact remains that her attempted manipulations have a surprisingly low success rate, regardless of precisely why.

Also noteworthy in this part of the episode comes when, in the middle of all of this, while Faye is slithering into the booth to get close enough to pull a gun on the wrong man, the scene suddenly returns to the bar, where a ditzy waitress is being harassed by some lascivious desperados. In the span of just a few moments, the depiction of a woman ensnaring a victim changes to a woman being victimized, and then immediately VT involves herself as the woman who comes to the waitress’ rescue. Briefly, both Faye and VT come across as powerful, albiet in different ways. This lasts right up until we discover that Faye has the wrong target, which leaves the only one of the three with any relevant power.

Going back to the earlier assumption that Heavy Metal Queen is going to be loud, grungy, and aggressive because of the title, subject matter, and background music, I would add that these qualities give the episode an air of brusque masculinity. Those sleek spaceships are absent from the opening shots because this episode is about phallic-looking space trucks full of straight lines, loud music and, as we discover later, pinup art and girly magazines. So, the fact that the most masculine of these three women emerges as the hero here is definitely in keeping with the manliness this episode is supposedly about.

To see the flipside of this particular brand of masculinity, though, look at the men involved during these scenes. The man in the diner who isn’t Decker comes across as pathetic and a little silly when he is discovered to be someone else (and what is he doing in a place apparently meant for kids?), and, well, “lascivious desperados” pretty aptly describes way the men at the truck stop present themselves. And then there’s Spike, who is too absorbed in concocting his hangover cure to pay any attention to the brawl going on right behind him at the bar. In short, the “real men” are all pathetic in their own way, plus horny and oblivious in specific cases.

They do redeem themselves here and there throughout the episode, however. Spike eventually helps VT route the desperados in the bar (although for selfish reasons). Jet’s handyman skills prove useful in getting both Spike and Faye back in the air with remarkable speed after their respective spacecraft are damaged. More notably, though, is Spike’s bold action that saves himself, Faye, and VT from the collapsing asteroid mine.

Not that he does it on his own, of course. All three of them work together here (a rarity for Spike and Faye) over the course of a pretty exciting escape that ends with Spike recognizing a photo VT keeps on her ship. It shows an exceedingly famous bounty hunter and a younger VT, which is all Spike needs to figure out VT's name.

I stand by the idea that this is a slight episode that mostly just provides a short break between weightier ones, but I would hesitate to write it off as insignificant. True, we'll never see VT again, nor will we hear of her husband, yet if there is any significance to this ending beyond the way it slightly broadens the Bebop universe and deepens Spike's involvement in it by some degree, I think it lies in VT's relationship to her past.

Like so many other characters in this series, she allows her past some amount of control over her present life. In her specific case, it does so to the extent that she is unreasonably bigoted against people like Spike, who is basically a decent sort of guy in a line of work she is so completely against that she turns on him as soon as she finds out what he does. It's hard to know if VT changes after meeting Spike and realizing that it's ok not to hate him, but I think the point is that the past is a strangely powerful thing that influences everyone, albiet in different ways. So even when Cowboy Bebop is sidetracked on an oddball episode like this one, it still has time to comment on the themes that run throughout the entire series.