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Raising a stink over bathrooms. Looking at you NC.

21 Apr

When backward jokes start to ring a little true about the South, I get a bit upset. Granted, I’m a northern transplant, but I like it down here in the South. But Southern politicians seem to be grasping at straws when it comes to the porcelain problem. Maybe the Republicans know they can’t win this next election, so they got to find something, anything, to claim as their belief and hang their hat on it.

I really got to ask, why bathrooms in particular? I hear the defense that it’s to “protect women and children from getting molested/raped.” Bulls–t. If someone wanted to be a pervert, a law’s not going to stop them. I’m assuming it hasn’t stopped them in the past; I don’t see why a newly created law would stop them in future. Also, could someone please, please give me a credible source to when a transgendered individual sexually assaulted someone in a bathroom. Maybe it has happened, but I’d be more worried about my kids hanging out with college football coaches, wrestling coaches, priests and restaurant chain spokesmen.

jerry-sandusky-headshot-7cd5c8cce2d82ce6jared_fogle_2007_cleaned_upsniderdreamstime_xl_40034002

You know what the crazy things about those three guys (Sandusky, Fogle, Snider)? They all had wives. They were “normal” on the surface.

Another question I have: would forcing trans people to use the bathroom that matches their birth gender solve anything? I doubt it. If anything, I think it’d be more awkward. Say a female-to-male transgender wants to use the restroom. He’d go into the female bathroom because he was born a woman. Don’t you think the women in the restroom would be a little shocked that, from what they perceive to be, a man is in the women’s bathroom? How is this a good idea?

I’m personally sitting in the camp of gender neutral bathrooms or hell, even just dumping the notion of this trans specific bill and going back to just simply using the restroom as you damn well need.

Two things to keep in mind: 1. My bathroom at home doesn’t care if you’re a guy/girl/dog/cat/giraffe/Zeus. Use it as you need. 2. Women have used the guys restroom when needed (long lines, closed for cleaning, etc.).

So why is this a trans specific issue?

 

Republicans, you’re not getting my swing vote.

12 Apr

*sigh* I haven’t written on this platform for a while and I was kinda glad to have a little bit of space. The 2016 political session has been an absolute mess. And just so there’s no doubt on which side of the aisle I’m on, I lean democrat. Understand I’m not a hard democrat; I’m willing to listen to reason. But my word, Republicans are making it difficult this year.

Let’s start with the presidential race first. I’m still scratching my head over the initial fielding of so many candidates. I don’t know who the political advisers were, but a lot of the candidates that have dropped out should’ve known better in the first place than to run.

And then there’s Trump. Trump. Seriously… WTF? Okay, I’m not against his right to run, I just can’t comprehend how he’s leading. Can someone please give me some legitimate reason why you’re voting for him? I’ll tell you the points I’ve heard and counterpoint them. But seriously, if you have a good reason, like I said, I’m willing to hear it.

Reasons People are Voting for Trump

  1. “He’s different. He’s not a politician.”
    1. This is weird reasoning to me. It’s like saying, “Oh, my house is on fire, but I don’t want a fireman. Let’s go with a mechanic.” Yes, he’s different, he’s novel. But that’s doesn’t mean that he’s qualified.
  2. “He’s been a successful businessman. If he can lead a company, he can lead our nation.”
    1. Trump water, Trump stakes, Trump Vodka, Trump the Game, Trump airlines, a few bankruptcies, just to name a few. You know what Trump is good at? Selling his name. He’s a brand, not a man.
  3. “He speaks his mind.”
    1. I find it a little strange that Trump’s supporters like it when speaks his mind, but when they are called names they lash out. The opposition is just speaking their mind. Why don’t you like them?

I’m sure we’ll add more. But seriously. Please, please, please convince me that Trump is going to be a good president.

Trump is bombastic, insulting, whiny, arrogant, narcissistic, and often plan rude. I find it troubling that a lot of people believe that he would be an excellent world leader when almost everything he says is inflammatory. The guy has no filter and I could easily see one of the other nuclear powers deciding to flip the switch on us.

Supergirl – Trying just a little too hard

27 Oct

I’ll be up front about this: I’m not a super hero fan. Don’t misinterpret that as being anti super hero; I just didn’t grow up reading comics. I do claim some parts of geekdom (video games and books) but I never got into comic books, Star Wars, Star Trek or Pokemon. Just understand that this critique is coming from someone who is looking for something new to watch but isn’t already allied to the subculture. Alright, moving on.

I want to like Supergirl. Maybe not as much as the true fans, but I can definitely see how Supergirl could bring view a feminine perspective on the whole superhero thing. I enjoyed Xena: Warrior Princess when it was on TV and the old Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, so I figured that this might be somewhere between the two.

Episode one doesn’t quite hit it for me. I know, I know. Got to give it a little bit of time to hit its stride. But let’s point out some of the issue I had with the first showing:

  1. The writing/acting/directing: I’m not exactly sure which to blame this on, but some lines just sound so cliched:
    1. Jimmy Olson to Kara when talking about Superman: “He is everything you want him to be and more.” – Yikes
    2. Quickly followed with: “He told me the biggest risk is never taking any.”  …. 0_o.
    3. Jimmy to Kara regarding her resemblance to Superman: “Anyone ever tell you that you look a little like him right here?” The audience already knows that she’s related to Superman. The line adds nothing except creating more awkwardness on her part.
    4. Alex to Kara saying: “And thanks to your alien DNA, you can’t get pimps.” At the moment Kara is talking about an existential crisis and Alex is talking about skin care. *cringe*
    5. Winn to Kara saying: “Oh my god. You’re a lesbian. Oh Kara, that’s why you’re not in me.” Cliched.
    6. Winn after the initial non-caped Supergirl failed. “A cape aids with aerodynamics.” How does a loose piece of fabric flapping around everywhere aid aerodynamics?
    7. While getting ready for her date earlier in the episode, Kara says she can stop a bullet. But then when getting ready to stop a bank robbery, Winn asks if she’s sure she’s bullet-proof. She responds, “I hope so.”
    8. Hank Henshaw’s line: “We realized we weren’t alone in the universe and we soon might be getting more… immigrants.” The way it’s delivered makes it carry a lot of negative connotations.
    9. Alex talking to Kara: “…I was the star. And then, I mean, how can compete with you, with someone who could touch the stars.”
    10. Hank and Alex’s exchange regarding Supergirl: “I don’t trust aliens.” “There’s no one I trust more.” *eye roll*
    11. Kara to Hank: “I started this. You have to let me stop it.”
    12. Hank and Alex’s exchange regarding Supergirl: “She’s not strong enough.” “Why? Because she’s just a girl? It’s exactly what we were counting on?” Nice underhanded way of calling Hank sexist.
    13. When Alex questions Hank if Kara was the reason she was recruited: “Yeah..  you are why you get to stay.”
    14. “Up, up and away.” Yeah, I know it’s a nod to the source, but really?
  2. Art direction
    1. Maybe this is a reference to something else, but the picture Kara picks up in Jimmy’s office of Superman looks Photoshopped with the coloring.
    2. Supergirl’s flying leaves something to be desired, especially when she makes the initial transition from hovering to forward flight. (And once again after she get’s her suit, this time transitioning from flying to hovering)
    3. The shot of Kara doing an overhead lift of the falling plane looks to be a composite. She’s standing too still under the plane.
    4. When Kara pushes up into the plane to lift it higher above her head, the metal deforms unrealistically.
    5. The wire work of Supergirl getting punched into the air by Vartox is meh. Shortly followed with Supergirl doing a two foot flying kick that looks even worse.
    6. One of the last shots of Supergirl up in the sky looks like they sped up the film and she’s just standing against a backdrop with a fan blowing on her face.
  3. The acting
    1. Kara’s laughter after Jimmy Olson asks her name. We get it, you’re suppose to be a nerdy/geeky assistant who becomes more. Seriously, I think the point was already delivered in the way she dresses.
    2. Kara saying “Wow” after leaving Jimmy Olson’s office. The previous awkward exchange already showed that she was infatuated with him. This snippet added nothing.
    3. Kara and Alex’s exchange about who has a more pressing engagement is petty (purposefully so?). Also, Alex has to be on a plane in two hours for an international flight. Anybody that travels knows that picking out a something for her sister to wear really doesn’t give her enough time to get to the airport.
    4. Kara date was extremely short and the exchange within it felt forced. Not acted like it was supposed to be forced but like the actors forced their way through it.
    5. Alex’s *itchiness toward Kara after coming home from the flight, asking, “Are you okay?”
    6. Kara’s crying after mom’s holograph disappeared.
  4. Odds and Ends
    1. When the plane is going down and Kara uses her X-ray vision, why is no one using the deployed masks or in a brace position?
    2. Also, why is the pilot circling the city if an engine’s caught fire? Why not immediately make an emergency landing?
    3. I guess since there are no more phone booths, all heroes now have to run through alleys to change their clothes.
    4. Why did Kara start on the wing of the plane? If the plane’s going down, logic would say to get directly under it.
    5. What’s with choosing “She’s a Bad Mama Jama.” Doesn’t quick fit the tone for Kara’s first official work as Supergirl.
    6. Kara stating, “You’re plane. They were trying to stop you.” How did she know that?
    7. The DEO helicopter is a really bad shot.
    8. Vartox landed so conveniently next to his ax, which is quite nicely standing on end, after getting ejected out of his truck.

The one bright spot in the whole episode was Calista Flockhart. I think she was cast well.

I’ll probably come back and edit this for readability, but at least my initial thoughts are out there. Let me know what you thought about the episode.

Valve needlessly fractured the modding community

29 Apr Chicken mount

Skyrim Mod DeathWow, that was quick. The negative backlash over paid mods was so huge that it forced the hand of Valve almost overnight. Anyone that purchased paid mods is being refunded and Valve is having to sit in the corner and think about what they did. The crazy part thing about this that it didn’t have to become a shit storm. Valve simply didn’t do their homework and they blindsided the community with the concept of paid mods.

Let’s be clear; I’m not a modder nor extensively modded any of my games, but I’ll all for modders getting paid for the work they do. If they do good work, yeah, pay them. If they are adding depth and intrigue to a game, they should definitely be making a living.Gerry Rich

I know I probably went over this in my last post, but part of Valve’s failure was the lack initial of oversight. The possibility of me-too skins and obvious rip-offs flooding the marketplace was a huge detractor even if it was only at the beginning.

I will also modify my position on donations. Given the choice between getting something for free and paying for it, no matter the quality, most people will go with free and I admit that I’m one of them. I can see how the argument about simply having a donate button doesn’t really address the issue. As example, from Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson: “The teams behind mega-mods like SkyUI—who came out of pseudo-retirement at the promise of a payday—are on the fence about what happens next. Creator Mardoxx_ noted that previous versions of SkyUI generated less than $500 in donations over four years, and that they simply don’t have the time to do this stuff for free like they did when they were younger.” Yeah, $500 for four years of work is not cool.computer-homeless

There are some modders/pro-modder users they have posited that the angry mob killed the only viable way of modders to get paid. Complete BS. Yes, paid mods through the Stream Workshop would have made it more manageable and easier to control, but it’s not the only way to get paid. I may be oversimplifying this, but put the mod behind a paywall if you want to get paid. Modders threatening to pull, pulling or not even releasing mods feels like an overreaction. If you made mods for yourself, great. If you made mods for you and your friends, also great. If you made mods to gain exposure, great. If you made mods to get paid, also great. But to bring your work to the table and then huffily take them away…

Did Valve have a good idea? Absolutely! Did they have good intentions? I don’t know. Was the idea implemented well? Absolutely not. I can definitely see how Valve backing burgeoning modders would be beneficial to all parties. But the customers fought back.

Part of the fight may have centered around the notion that mods that use to be free now cost something, but focusing solely on that aspect ignores the rest of the argument. Many players, myself included, were incredulous about the funding split. Why would Valve and Bethesda get more money than the person that created the mod? All Valve would do, from what was implied, is host the content and handle the payments. Bethesda’s made the core game and the tools. But the modder would be doing most of the work. So why would customers want to pay either Valve or Bethesda more? Why not a 50-30-20 split or 60-20-20. I think most of us would want to pay the modder more than Valve or Bethesda but we may have even been inclined to the initial split if it was newer Bethesda game..

The anger I felt wasn’t against modders, but against Valve and Bethesda. Any current hatred toward modders is unwarranted. Most are doing it for the love of the game. Why is it wrong for them to want to get paid for good work?

Revolt

Valve, the Modders and all that Sweet, Sweet Cash

24 Apr Skyrim Fishing

I love Skyrim, but I am also no where close to finishing it either. I came late to Tamriel due to a ever looming backlog and my cheap-assiness. For the completionist in me, it’s overwhelming. I doubt I will ever find all the dungeons, quests, NPCs or level all my skills. I don’t even have any DLC. So when I got notification from IsThereAnyDeal.com that all the DLC was on sale, I readied my wallet.

Steam recently had a sale on Skyrim, so I was surprised at it’s quick return. They wouldn’t have done so without reason. Yep, with the blessings of Steam, modders now have the ability to charge for the their work and Skyrim is the first to market.

Part of me is with the community, decrying this as BS, that real modders create out of love for the game, but I also understand that people have to eat. Yeah, Valve and Bethesda get a cut but in theory the mod creator as well. Work is still work. But the community backlash exists because of how Valve implemented it. Valve, from what I’ve been reading, isn’t going to curate what mods go up for sale; it’s an open market. Someone could sell mods with stolen assets or simply make duplicates of preexisting mods under new names. Yeah, Valve will give refunds to people who are unsatisfied with their mod within 24 hours, but that’s taking a reactive, not proactive, approach. They’ll react to DMCA take down requests, but no proactively remove content.

To be fair, I don’t think anyone would have the ability to take the time and curate all the good and mostly awful mods that have been, and will continue to be, created. But opening the flood gates is irresponsible. I believe that there will be a point where Valve will be inundated with mod refund requests that they’ll have to shut it down.

GabenSwimminginMoney

I favor the idea about being able to donate to the mod creators directly and others on the Internet are of the same opinion. So why this route? Money. Not for the modder, but for Valve and the publishers.

It’s such an overt money grab, gamers are revolting. It’s the same concept with baggage fees on the airplane. Luggage use to fly for free, why the change? The only reason airline passengers put up with it is because there isn’t a better alternative to flying. But with modding? There’s no good reason to charge for something that use to be free.

So here’s the core issue. Just flat out, Valve has gotten lazy. They’re no longer a developer of original ideas. Their recent work is either repetitious iterations of old intellectual properties (Portal 2, Half-Life Episodes 1, 2) or bought and exploited modifications (Counter Strike, DOTA, Team Fortress).

TF2 Many Hats

Original work done by Ashley Lange http://ashlelang.deviantart.com/

I’m not discrediting the work that goes building and maintaining these games, but rather what seems to be the corporate ethos of Valve. Yes, I’m still looking forward to Half Life 3, but what’s after that? Team Fortress 52, Counter Strike Universal Force, Half Life 3 episodic games?

Valve has built a hell of a distribution platform in Steam to the point where it’s almost unbeatable. But with half baked “features” like trading cards, Greenlight, Early-Access and now, pay-to-mod, gamers are starting to sour toward the behemoth. But, as with air travel, what other realistic options do we have?

Idaho Gov. “Won’t someone please think of the children!”

22 Oct

2-17_AddWordsProtest_Statesman

Note: My opinion on a piece I saw over at BuzzFeed this morning.

So Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says that marriage equality could cause significant harms, “especially [to] the children of heterosexuals” and has asked the Court of Appeals to reconsider the position that the Idaho ban on same sex ban is unconstitutional.

Lawyers for Gov. Otter wrote, “This issue is also exceptional because, as a practical matter, redefining marriage by judicial fiat will undermine these social norms and likely lead to significant long-term harms to Idaho and its citizens, especially the children of heterosexuals… —including serious risks of increased fatherlessness, reduced parental financial and emotional support, increased crime, and greater psychological problems…”

On social norms, I’ll quote user TheLittleRedHeadThatCould because I couldn’t say it better:
“It used to be a “social norm” to cut sick people, you know, to let them “bleed it out”.
It used to be a “social norm” to force black people to use different bathrooms.
It used to be a “social norm” to marry girls off at 16 with a dowry.
Thankfully, “social norms” change.” QFT.

To address each of the lawyers’ statements: 

1. “Increased fatherlessness…”
Really? We already have tons of kids out there that are growing up in single parent homes. Wouldn’t it be better to have two people that love each other raise a kid, instead of one? (Not diminishing the power of the single parent; their sacrifice and dedication is amazing) 

2. “Reduced parental financial and emotional supports.”
Once again, two heads of house hold, two incomes. Two loving people = better emotional support. 

3. “Increased crime and psychological problems.”
Seriously? That’s simply conjecture. I haven’t seen any scientific proof indicating that.

Listen, I get that the majority of people who are anti-gay are fundamentalist Christians. But yet it seems really easy for us to pick and choose what parts of the Bible we will advocate for and others that we won’t. Ex. In Deuteronomy 22:20-21, it talks about how if a woman is not found to be a virgin when she is married, she is to be stoned to death. And yet we ignore that.

Christians, I don’t get you sometimes and sometimes I wonder how I affiliate myself with you. Yes, I’m still a Christian, but 1. It’s not our place to judge, as it’s God’s and 2. Jesus preached love and compassion. Jesus hung out with whores and tax collectors and lairs and cheaters and blue collar workers. Where in the Bible does it say that we must go out of our way to harass and harangue our fellow human beings? You may think you are trying to save their souls, but news flash, it’s not working and it won’t work.

One of my favorite comics puts it best:

jealous
A little silly, but it makes it a good point.

Christians, it’s a lot easier to love. So much time and effort is being put forth into fighting homosexual marriage but why? This isn’t rhetorical, I want to know why people are pouring so much effort into this.

Couple of things I want to get out of the way:

1. America is not a Christian only country. Stop acting like it is as every position stating such can be easily refuted. Even the “Under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance.

2. It’s their personal choice. No, I’m not debating sexual preference being a choice or biologically directed. I’m saying that what people do with their own lives in this regards does not affect us in the least bit. So why should we get in the way?

3. “But what about the children,” you say. Listen, if you are concerned about your kids being negatively influenced by gay people, my biggest question to you is, “Why are you worried? What negative aspect of being homosexual are you afraid of? Or really are you just uncomfortable with the concept of homosexuality? Also, I’ll infer that you say that, you’re worried you can’t control your children. Right?” Which leads to:
Wonka Convert
Condescending, yeah, but the fear that your child will be “converted” to being gay is unfounded.

4. Gays can have kids too. Sure, they may not have the biological parts for traditional child making, but surprise! There are places in the world called sperm banks. And egg banks. And orphanages. What orphan wouldn’t want a loving home? I doubt that the kid would care about mommy/mommy or daddy/daddy or mommy/daddy dynamics.

In summary, or the TL;DR version: anti-gay marriage just seems to be fronted by uncomfortable Christians, trying to justify how other people should live by forcibly framing their self-interpreted, Biblically driven ideal of happiness on people who live differently from them.

I’m curious to see how many non-Christians are anti-gay marriage for reasons other than, “They make me feel uncomfortable,” because I don’t think there are very many and I would like to hear their argument.

Why I don’t align with GamerGate

17 Oct

Let me make it clear from the offset: I have no idea what GamerGate really stands for. One hand, they say they are for proper ethics in video game journalism. On the other, they come off as a misogynistic hate group, if that’s true or not, I don’t know. Even if the core of GamerGate is anti-misogyny, the way they are perceived by the general population says otherwise. Is that unfair? Maybe. But to cling to this group, shrugging off the fact that it’s tainted, does any well intentioned actions a disservice.

I’ve talked to some people on Twitter who appeared to be pro GamerGate, through have not directly said as much, and they’ve dismissed the idea of reforming under a different banner, stating that the tolls would simply follow and ruin that name. And this is where I’m calling them out as being disorganized. If you’re going to stick with GamerGate as the name of the revolt, someone has to do some PR to seriously distance themselves from the tolls. Right now all the general public hears is, “Video games, journalism, hate against women, angry.” It’s like an aimless Hulk “Smash!”

And can someone please clarify the ethics in journalism angle for me? (And yes, I’m being serious and trying to be objective) I know pieces of Zoe Quinn story and the overarching thought stream of how gaming journalists need to be more ethical, but I don’t understand GamerGate’s reasoning. Delving specifically into the Zoe Quinn issue, people are upset that she supposedly exchanged sexual favors for a positive review of her game. True or not, my question is, “Who cares?”

Some of the more GamerGate aligned Tweeters were dismissive when I asked this, so let me clarify why I asked “Who cares?” Even if a dev swapped favors for a positive review, that’s just one review. (I hope most of us just don’t go by one review.) “But Zen, what if they slept with the whole industry?” One, it’s really highly unlikely if you factor in international reviewers and the sheer number of people in the industry; two, I’m sure that they would have been a bad lay at one point or another; and three I seriously hope that we aren’t just going by gaming journalists only but vetting the game through demos/gameplay footage/screenshots and our friends’ first day impressions or indie reviewers (there’s quite a bit on YouTube).

So I ask again, what is GamerGate all about? Video game reviews are subjective. What a reviews likes, you may hate and vice vesa. I personally have hated Bioshock Infinite and GTA V and loved Katamari Damacy, Torchlight II and Crackdown. And you may not agree with that and that’s fine. So why all the revolt?

Edit: I think I’ve found the crossroads that explains (at least me) what the correct side of GamerGate is about and was alluded to in my Twitter conversations with pro-Gamergaters; gamer’s felt let they were being disrespected by the gaming press by being lumped all together as basement dwelling, white, preteen boys squeaking out vitriol over headsets, with the press flying the “Gamer’s are dead” flag. I think Slate got this right. It’s not gamers who are dead. It’s gaming journalism. Traditional gaming journalism is running for the hills because there’s more and more competition out there that will review games for little to nothing. Hell, I’m still itching to play the Due Process alpha and can’t wait to share my thoughts on it and I’m not expecting a dime. I’ve even got a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, so I could, if I wanted to, go and write for a review site or magazine. But then again, I don’t think I could make a living out of it, due to what we’ve covered here.

Final edit: Point being, and rehashing just so that I’m clear, GamerGate may have some good points, but they are tainted by misogynists. Every argument I’ve seen so far from them rings hollow. It’s great if they’re passionate about something, but passion without fact makes them look like Apocalypse heralding street corner preachers/mad men. I’m over it and I think most people are. Until they provide consistent proof about their point, I’m out and will no longer debate the point.