So, I was working on a poem last night. This is what I have:
He’s been sitting in this bar for the last fifteen years,
Waiting for the Devil to come make a deal for his soul.
Don’t bother to talk to him, I think that his ears
Are shot from all of this bad rock ‘n’ roll.
I happen to really like these lines. Unfortunately, I have no idea what to say next, or even if it should be funny, scary, sad or what. But those lines are, in my opinion, too good to waste.
So, I am putting it out for you readers to work with. If you can think of what comes next, put it in the comments, or alternatively post it on your own blog and let me know so I can link to it.
And sorry, there is no prize, in case you were wondering.
There is a song by Sheldon Harnick called “The Merry Minuet”, often performed by The Kingston Trio. It is very cynical, darkly-humorous in a Tom Lehrer-esque sort of way. It includes the lines: “They’re rioting in Africa/There’s strife in Iran/What Nature doesn’t do to us/Will be done by our fellow Man”
I found myself thinking of this often while playing the 2008 video game Far Cry 2. It should have been its epigraph.
It is very dark, nihilistic game. I played it after reading people compare the excellent Spec Ops: The Line to it. Both are influenced by the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Far Cry 2 is set in an African country in the middle of a civil war. The player assumes the “Marlow” (or more accurately, “Willard” from Apocalypse Now) role, and is sent to kill an arms dealer named “the Jackal”.
The Jackal is, of course, in the “Kurtz” role, and he wastes no time in showing up to recite some Nietzsche at the incapacitated player. This is followed by a lot of (to quote the ESRB rating) “Blood, Drug References, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes [and] Strong Language”. Then the Jackal shows up again and explains that his plan is to end the violence. And his chosen method for ending the violence is to kill everyone.
This is only slightly less ridiculous than the Catalyst’s scheme in Mass Effect 3, but for some reason Far Cry 2 didn’t generate near as much outcry. Critics have lauded it for its commentary on the nihilistic violence of video games. The violence of Far Cry is so meaningless… it really makes you think, y’know?
Except that, unlike Spec Ops, it really has nothing to say about nihilistic violence in games, except that it’s there. Just like it’s in all the violent games it’s supposedly a commentary upon. I wouldn’t have even thought it was making any sort of commentary, except that critics claimed it was.
The point of the game, I guess, is that war is pointless and stupid. Which I guess is often true, although surely not as stupid as all this. The factions will often give the player a quest in a scene that goes something like this:
Oh, hey there, complete stranger—would you mind going to the other side of the country and blowing up the hospital? Our enemies are giving out free malaria vaccines there, and we don’t want people to think they are nicer than we are. What’s that? You have malaria too? Wow, small world. Well, here’s your C4. Off ya go!
And you have to do it if you want to progress in the game! The box says you can play it your way, but that is not really the case—you have to play it the Jackal’s way; and frankly, he’s not very good at video games.
Pretensions aside, the game is a mindless shooting gallery with pretty scenery. The most “influence” Conrad could really be said to have over this game is the African setting and the mentality of “Exterminate the Brutes”.
The other day a friend of mine and I were discussing Ronald Reagan’s famous line “There you go again” to Jimmy Carter in their 1980 debate. Specifically, that neither of us knew what the context of the famous line was. So, naturally, we had to find out:
The topic at hand was health insurance, which goes to show you how long the nation has been dealing with that issue. But listen to the rest of Reagan’s response. Reagan says that he supported some other piece of legislation instead of Medicare. I wondered what might have been, and trying to find out, all I came across was this from Wikipedia:
When [Reagan's opposition to Medicare] arose in a televised debate in late October, Reagan responded: “When I opposed Medicare, there was another piece of legislation meeting the same problem before Congress. I happened to favor the other piece of legislation and thought it would be better for the senior citizens. … I was not opposing the principle of providing care for them…” Carter’s campaign accused Reagan of “rewriting history”, saying that there was no such alternative legislation
This sort of thing irritates me. It is a simple “yes” or “no” question: was there, or was there not, an alternative piece of legislation? It’s not a matter of “Reagan said” vs. “Carter said”. I would have thought that people could manage to properly fact-check a debate after 33 years.
The Democrats have made a change to Senate rules: now, it is no longer possible to filibuster confirmation of Presidential appointees. The Associated Press article says:
Sweeping aside a century of precedent, Democrats took a chunk out of the Senate’s hallowed filibuster tradition on Thursday and cleared the way for speedy confirmation of controversial appointments made by President Barack Obama and chief executives in the future.
That phrasing strikes me as odd, especially the use of the word “hallowed”. Seems slanted against the Democrats. Senator Reid seems to me to have been fairly reluctant to do this, and only finally did after having his hand more or less forced by the Republicans.
That said, I don’t like the decision. I understand why they did it, and from a short-term view, it makes sense. But it is true that they may come to regret it in the future, as the Republicans are saying. (Unless, I guess, the Democrats change it back during the lame-duck session if they are voted out.)
Still, the Republicans are acting like the Democrats just did this for no reason, and not because the Republicans have been filibustering appointments for no reason. Which, technically, they are allowed to do, but they are violating the spirit, if not the word, of the Senate rules.
So, it’s a real dilemma. An insoluble one, perhaps. The Republicans’ casual use of the filibuster has caused a breakdown in the functioning of government. And the only thing the Democrats could think of to fix it was to break the functioning of government in a different way. It is a bad trend. It bespeaks a downward spiral in how the Senate works.
So, no doubt even non-gamers have heard the fuss about the new gaming consoles coming out this month. It’s the first new console generation when I have had no desire to buy any of the new consoles. Here’s why:
- Here is a screenshot of Madden 98 on the PS1.
- Madden 2003, on the PS2. A big improvement, no?
- Madden 2009, on the PS3, another big improvement.
- Madden 25 on the PS4. Not really that different from 2009.
Now, graphics aren’t all that matters, and if there were a good launch title–say, a Fallout 4, made by Obsidian–on these consoles, I would likely get one. But there isn’t. All there is is Madden and Call of Duty: Ghosts. (So named, I assume, because everyone is a ghost after all the apocalyptic world wars depicted in previous Calls of Duty.)
I am not seeing any reason to upgrade.
They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.–Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) June 28, 2006.
I’ve heard a lot over the past few weeks about how the government’s new health care site doesn’t work, how the rollout was “botched”, and so on. What I haven’t heard–and I admit, I haven’t followed the story closely–is what actually is wrong with it.
So far, I have only found one concrete account with screenshots showing a problem definitively: Rob Nikolewski at the New Mexico Watchdog shows that the security question boxes don’t work. Besides that, the only thing I have heard is that “it’s slow”. Well, of course. Lots of people are using it. Glitches like this happen when launching something that will have a lot of users–look at some famous Massively-Multiplayer Online games, for example.
To me, it’s unfortunate that this happened, but its also far from unprecedented or even unexpected. The Republicans are acting like it’s a massive scandal. Personally, I think everyone is overreacting to it. I wonder if, because many politicians tend to be less-than-web-savvy types, it seems like a bigger problem to them.
“I can’t run, can’t hide, can’t get away.
It must be my destiny.
The same thing happens to me every day.
Bad Karma comin’ after me…”
–Warren Zevon, “Bad Karma” 1987
Do you ever get the idea that your life runs in cycles? By that I mean, do you get the feeling you live predictable cycles of good times and bad? My blogger friend Thingy and I have discussed this possibility before on her blog. (Sorry I can’t find the post to link to Thingy–I couldn’t remember the title.)
It’s roughly a five-year cycle for me, as near as I can tell, and I’m approaching a downswing. So I guess this is a roundabout of way of saying there could be light posting here for the next month or so. I’ll try to post at least once per weekend, but I can’t be sure. Don’t worry though; past history indicates things will improve after that.