Sunday, December 14, 2014

Guster: Long Night

Guster has released a new music video.

I think it has to do with some of the usual Guster things, and maybe someone else's mythology.

Monday, December 1, 2014

New Year's Board Gaming

It is that time of year again. I will once again be opening my house for board gaming this year for New Year's for anyone interested. I am planning on taking the entire week of New Year's off this year. This is an open invitation to hang out and play board/video games for any amount of time throughout that week.

I'm planning on attempting to play a complete game of Twilight Imperium on New Year's day, and possibly into the weekend if it takes that long. Prior to and after said game there is no set itinerary. Let me know if you are interested.

Sunday, November 2, 2014



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happier - Live

Guster released this in January, but I just saw it today.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

R.I.P Joan Rivers

Saturday, August 30, 2014

R.I.P. Rivers Institute

Little we knew ye;
grant money gone before its time.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review: A Panorama of Needless Shit

What Marvel did to the Guardians of the Galaxy is worse than what Michael Bay did to the Transformers.

That film was maybe the worst thing I have ever watched.

If you liked it?  What you liked is a vague reference to another story you recall.

All the good things in Guardians of the Galaxy are in other things.  Comics, cartoons, whatever.

This movie is an abomination of shit.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Doubleclicks: Can't You See The World Is Ending?

Reminder: Rifftrax Live Sharknado Tonight

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sir Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye.

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby: Fuck the RFRA

Folks on the internet seem to not understand how Burwell v. Hobby Lobby happened.  To explain, let's take a jaunt down legal precedent lane.

In Reynolds v. United States (1878) the Supreme court ruled that religious duty is not a defense to a criminal indictment.  You do not get to break a law, and defend yourself by claiming "religion".
To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and, in effect, to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.
 In 1878:  Law > Belief  A person can maintain religious beliefs, but when those beliefs come into conflict with established law, the law wins.

In Employment Div. v. Smith (1990) the Supreme Court ruled that states are not required to accommodate acts on grounds of religious belief.  One remains subject to a "neutral law of general applicability"  despite whether or not the neutral law conflicts with one's religious beliefs.
The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind -- ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws, to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races. The First Amendment's protection of religious liberty does not require this.
But to say that a nondiscriminatory religious practice exemption is permitted, or even that it is desirable, is not to say that it is constitutionally required, and that the appropriate occasions for its creation can be discerned by the courts. It may fairly be said that leaving accommodation to the political process will place at a relative disadvantage those religious practices that are not widely engaged in; but that unavoidable consequence of democratic government must be preferred to a system in which each conscience is a law unto itself or in which judges weigh the social importance of all laws against the centrality of all religious beliefs.
In 1990:  Law > Belief.  Exemptions for religious practice are permitted, but not required by the Constitution. 

Guess what happens next.

Next, we come to 1993, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  This bill can be simply summarized as, "All that legal precedent?  Fuck that noise."
- The purposes of this Act are
(1) to restore the compelling interest test as set forth in Federal court cases before Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith and to guarantee its application in all cases where free exercise of religion is substantially burdened; and
(2) to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government.
This effectively overturned those previous rulings.  After the RFRA, the government cannot limit a person's exercise of religion, except in two cases.
(b) EXCEPTION. -- Government may burden a person's exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person --
(1) furthers a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
 And what do we find in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby?
(c) The Court assumes that the interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to the four challenged contraceptive methods is a compelling governmental interest, but the Government has failed to show that the contraceptive mandate is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. Pp. 38–49.
That, internet, is the how and why women lost their contraception coverage.  Because back in 1993, all but three congressmen voted for the ReligiousFreedom Restoration Act.

When folks be bitching on Facebook, you may want to point out that the problem is not with SCOTUS, or Scalia changing his mind.  The problem is religion, and the RFRA.

This may also be useful to cite whenever your naive Liberal friend spouts the wrongheaded maxim of "You can believe whatever you want, so long as...".

When people believe X, they're going to try to actualize X.  No matter how wrongheaded that X may be.

Where does this leave us?
To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and, in effect, to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Christmas in June

Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost his seat in Congress

With nearly all of the votes counted, Brat had 56 percent of the vote to Cantor's 44 percent.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Preventing Cable Company Fuckery

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gotham: That's a good idea.

Great idea that will be canceled after a season.

And the season finale where they introduce baby-Joker will really, really piss me off.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Heartstone: Do Not Start

Do not start playing Hearthstone.

Blizzard's entry into the online CCG market is exactly what you would expect.  They steal the good ideas from other CCGs, remove the shitty parts, and take your money.  Sure, they say Hearthstone is Free to Play.  But is it?

Is it really?

The Free to Play model works thusly:  You start with a basic deck, and play against the AI.  As you level your deck (Yes, there is leveling) you unlock new cards, and other heroes.  Through the free tutorial stage you can unlock most of the basic cards, and every hero class.  In MTG terminology:  You unlock precons by playing the computer.

Once you feel comfortable with your precon, it is time to play real people.  Win three games against real people, acquire 10 gold.  Gold can also be acquired through completing quests, such as 'Win twice with a rogue deck'.  These daily quests reward around 40 gold.  Once 150 gold is collected, it's time for Arena.

Arena is like MTG draft, but not as shitty.  First, you pick one of three possible classes.  Then you assemble your deck by selecting one of 3 cards 30 times.  Choose one of three commons, then one of three uncommons, then one of three rares, on and on until you have 30 cards.  With this drafted deck you face real opponents, until you lose 3 matches,  and then receive gold, dust, and card packs based upon your results.

This is the basic structure of Free to Play Hearthstone:

1)  Play constructed matches to acquire gold.
2)  Spend gold to play Arena.
3)  Win arena games to unlock packs of new cards, and more gold.
4)  Use the new cards to enhance your constructed deck.
5)  Go to 1.

If that sounds a bit tedious, that's ok; because it is designed to.  You see, there is also the option of purchasing packs, or paying $2 to play arena matches.  And, hey, why not drop $2 to play arena?  If you win 9 games, you'll have enough gold to play another round!  Oh shoot.  You only won 3 games?  That's too bad.  You know, if you pay another $2....

That's how they get you.

You may have noticed in all this that I have not mentioned mana or resource cards.  Well, there aren't any.  Each player has a total of 10 crystals that act as mana.  On round one you get one crystal.  On round two you get two.  Up to ten crystals.  There is no mana screw.

This, for me, is one of the selling points that puts Hearthstone ahead of MTG.  In Magic, there is the possibility of getting hosed by resource denial, and so decks need to be constructed with this in mind.  In Hearthstone, you know that on turn five you will have five mana.  Decks can be designed around a reliable, stable mana curve.  RNG exists in card draw, rather than card draw + resource access.

Another perk of Hearthstone is that everything is digital.  By this I mean that if someone finds a way to abuse a particular card, that card can be modified.  It's keen in the "Hey, let's make skullclamp cost more" sense, but shitty in the "I just dropped $x to build a deck around this exploit they have patched."

This is the point at which we get into the argument over whether spending $60 on digital cards is dumber than spending $60 on, say, WoW or LoL.  And while it is true that you do not *really* have those cards, you also do not *really* have those LoL skins, or WoW gear, or whatever.

Oh yeah, crafting.  You can disenchant cards into dust, and use that dust to build specific cards.  If you acquire a bunch of Priest rares but want to play Warlock, you simply disenchant the priest cards and build the specific Warlock card you want.  There is no way to buy specific cards.  Rather, you buy packs to disenchant to build specific cards.

Finally, I have to say that Hearthstone is pretty damn balanced.  It has the predictable aggro, combo, control metagame.  What's nice is that a viable deck can be constructed in any category for relatively cheap.  After a week of free matches you ought to be able to build one of the free decks through a bit of luck and some dust.  Numerous people have made it to Rank 1 without spending any money.  It is simply a matter of winning.

That is the basics of Hearthstone.  It's a Free to Play CCG with two play modes, no mana screw, and a reasonably balanced metagame.

Do not play it.


Ok.  Actually?  You should totes be fucking playing this right now.  Why are you not playing this?  It's like Magic, but free.  And there are trap cards!  And it's on iPad.  And it will be on Android soon!  So you could sit in the bathroom at work and grind arena matches on your fucking phone.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Your Toddler is a Sociopath, and Other True Statements that Piss People Off

You know that feeling you get when you see a dog or cat owner talk to their pet using complete sentences chock-full of adjectives and clauses?  That painful, pulsating, sense of wrongness that results from watching someone act in a manner completely estranged from reality?

That's basically how I feel whenever I interact with the parents of young children.

I recently became friends with a single mother who has a two year old daughter.  Through our interactions I have learned two valuable lessons:

1)  I think two year olds are awesome.
2)  Parents of toddlers are insufferable.

This is the problem I have:  In the same way that dog owners anthropomorphize their canine, parents of toddlers anthropomorphize their kids.  They posit a wealth of meaning, intent, and psychological nuance onto the child that just plain isn't fuck there.  And when I point this out to them, they get pissed off.  Because the parent thinks of its two year old as a quirky adolescent with a speech impediment, and I think of their toddler as...basically a high-functioning African Grey Parrot that shits in its own pants.

Because that's what it is.

Relevant story time:  My friend wants to enter her daughter in a child beauty pageant in order to boost the child's self esteem, so she asked me what I thought.  Now, for the moment, let's ignore the whole 'beauty pageant' problem to focus upon the larger issue:

Two Year Olds Do Not Have Low Self Esteem

In fact, toddlers can't have low self esteem; it is psychologically impossible.  The mental faculties required to have low self esteem, to feel inferior to other people, do not yet exist.  This because, to your toddler, there are no other people.  A toddler is mentally incapable of thinking that other human beings have intent, desires, wills of their own.  A two year old can have a kind of inferiority resulting from an inability to accomplish a particular task, but she doesn't feel the way you and I did in high school when we realized we weren't the cool kids.

Now, to me, this would be a relief for a parent.  They can cast aside the concern for enhancing their child's sense of self (because it doesn't yet have a self), and focus instead on making sure it doesn't choke on LEGOs.  But, no.  When I say, "You know...your daughter can't have low self esteem.  At this stage, she's functionally a sociopath." the mother gets pissed off.

Why?  I am not sure.

But it's really fucking frustrating to cite Erik Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development, and be rebuffed with "Well, I'm a mom."

Because, for one thing, that is not an argument.  It is simply an indication that you haven't quite figured out birth control.

Now, the two year old, herself?  She's great.  Because she makes sense to me.  We get on swimmingly.

But fuck if I can figure out what the hell is wrong with the mom.

Cause here's the thing:  If you honestly give a shit about your child's well being, then you ought to engage with the child as it is.  Understand the toddler's psychological state, and act accordingly.  Just like if you want to behoove your dog, then understand what it is, and act accordingly.

Your dog doesn't understand the subjunctive mood, and your toddler doesn't understand modus ponens.

Seems to me that pretending they do just causes problems.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Watch True Detective

True Detective:  Watch it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014