Like most internet-based phenomena, the answer is probably “yes”. But read the article and decide for yourself (and then read the scared-boys comments and see if that changes your mind…).
Years ago, Avery Brooks (who will forever be Cmdr. Sisko to me) did a truly awesome commercial for IBM, one that still prompts me to occasionally exclaim, “I was promised flying cars!” The point was that, when people look into the future, they see today’s technology modified for the future, not the invention of whole new ways of thinking, communicating, and acting. I was promised vidphones, soylent green, and transporters. Instead, I have email/IM/vidChat/cellphones/Skype, LäraBars/gojiberries/tofu, and …well…I used to have Concords…we’ll give transporters a pass for now. Years ago, I thought it was ludicrous that someone would consider not having an email that wasn’t their name, that my brother-in-law (junior high) should be on Facebook, that I could watch Netflix through my 360. But technology happens in unexpected ways. Which is to say, completely anticipated ways. Read more >>
Synchronized debating. This is exactly why the internet is so important. Why fair use is not just some abstraction but something that affects each of our lives. And, it’s funny. So learn more about both candidates and a little something about the wonders of the internet:
One of the more popular genre of games right about now is a cross between full RPG and general story game. The most highly anticipated was Fable, where you start out as a young boy and grow into a hero…or a villain. And this was the major selling point: a slightly more sophisticated Choose Your Own Adventure book, without the possibility of getting caught in an endless loop (that happen to anyone else?) or for some reason falling off a cliff face & dying, even though you’re on a pirate ship (seriously, continuity was not invented until after the 80s). Perhaps because it was so highly anticipated, Fable fell on its face (like me, off that damned cliff): the choices were either mundane (which is more evil: bread or chicken?) or bizarre (lessee: I can go on your mission or rip your head off & drink your blood); you didn’t grow up so much as wake one morning with muscles, a deeper voice, and a god complex; and clichéd (when you’re good, you glow and when you’re bad, you have flies circling your head). My major complaint about it, since all of those were actually rather charming in a strange way (one of the missions actually required that you stand in front of a cave and eat 50 live chickens to prove your evilness) was that, if you actually did all the missions before the final mission, it was far too easy.
But the point is this: I spent days playing that game. Crunchy live chicken bones and all. I’m the kind of person who explores maps in their entirety, just to make sure I didn’t miss the 3 gold that might be hiding in that garbage can. So when I got my hands on Fable, I played it through, thoroughly; but since you can’t do that and be good, I played it through again. Thoroughly. Jade Empire was my next good/evil game. I played that one through 3 times (once good, once bad, and then another two times half way through bad because there were four endings…).
The most popular is undoubtedly Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Morality game and you get to choose the color of your light saber’s crystal. Pure geeky fantasy.
This post came out of a comment about video games and exploration of morality. There are social rules that we live by on a day to day basis (most often not involving falling off cliffs, eating live chickens, or light saber dilemmas). The little moralities of “should I speed” or “whose pen is this” are petty next to the epic good vs. evil that’s waiting at home on a shiny silver disc.
Not only are these games popular as a genre, they’re starting to bleed into the other genres. Mass Effect, which as far as I could tell was a Halo-meets-EVN knock off had “being evil” an option in most of your choices. This caused my husband to play it through twice: once as a beautiful but tough woman with a nice ass (since the third-person perspective meant that was what you got to see of her most of the time) and once as a large man with a larger nose and a scar over his eye. Nothing subtle there.
What do these [socially acceptable] role-playing games show us about ourselves and others? In the safe space between the video game and you, the opportunity to do anything you want to exists. Will you fire at those ugly aliens and become humanity’s hero? Or will you negotiate with them and become the peacemaker? Either way, you’ll get XP and renown, so the choice really is completely up to the player. Incidentally, I don’t know anyone who plays these games down the middle: I’ll negotiate with these aliens but blow the next ones out of the sky. Everyone hits the extreme.
Is our world so grey that we need these little hits of good vs. evil? Or do we all secretly wish that we were saints (or satans)?
I know I have a (possibly not that hidden) dark streak: I’ve always been the black mage, the live chicken eater, the Marauder. I also don’t often work well in parties. I could go all sorts of places analyzing those two statements…
dunno how long this will be up, but right now, you can Google stuff in 2001: it’s like a window to the past (most of the links are dead, so you’re really searching Google’s cache, but still fun
I just have to post this to all and sundry: perhaps Fry’s is trying to make a new image for itself. Perhaps this is one lone, respectful employee. Perhaps the stars were aligned or the interaction was so short he didn’t have a chance to insult me. Perhaps the Fry’s in Woodland Hills is different from all other Fry’ses. Here is my story, as I just explained it to Fry’s website’s Contact Us form:
I just got home from the Fry’s in Woodland Hills and I have to say, I am very impressed.
I choose to go to Fry’s because I know that, whatever I need, Fry’s will have it and have it at a good price. When I choose not to go to Fry’s, it is because it is difficult if not impossible to find one item in the warehouse of a store and it is unlikely that I shall get any help from knowledgeable sales staff.
Today, you proved me wrong. I went to Fry’s looking for one item, looked for it briefly in the area it should logically be, and then asked the first salesperson I could find for it. Not only did I have no trouble finding a sales person, the sales person knew what I was talking about! Read more >>
(overheard between a drunken John & a drunken xJane at last night’s Abney Park concert)
Background: Yesterday, xJane was sitting around, slightly ill, and generally feeling sorry for herself. Whilst innocently watching Emmy consideration DVDs, she received a call from John, who asked if she was busy (she was not) and if she was interested in a steam punk event (she was). What followed was a scramble to finish the DVD (it’s an interesting & funny show, and I recommend it to all and sundry), google costumes, create a costume, finish laundry & dishes, see if I could rope anyone else into this (it’s like drugs: cosplay seems more normal if you can convince other people to do it with you, right Onigiri?), google hairstyles, make & eat dinner, shower, and get all steampunked up.
She then drove to the venue, which is the perfect place for such an event, and immediately knew she was in the right place. Perhaps 2% of the people who showed up were not in cos. Twas tres cool. She stood in line in the chilly LA air for a while, then was allowed to wait inside for John (who was then allowed to skip the line!). Many thanks to Isaac for the tix, for then we entered the 1870s. Or some kind of approximation there of.
Steampunk is hard to define, but I usually go with “Victorian futurism”. It’s was the future would look like if it were trapped in the past. Think the Time Machine, Golden Compass, Diamond Age. It generally involves lots of gears, leather, and zeppelins. It has some hardcore overlap with the Goth scene (although there is less blood involved in steampunk, there are arguably more corsets) as well as DIY/Makers.
The Edison in downtown LA is a steampunk-themed bar. It is always steampunk themed but may not always be as overrun with steampunks than it was last night. It may actually be a historic landmark (and if it’s not it should be): it’s the first private powerplant in LA…turned into a bar. The generators, coal-furnaces, and just all around ambiance is still there. They even have a steampunk dress code (which stresses no “athletic wear of any kind” and that they “strive to more quickly accommodate those who” dress steampunk). It’s a place I would certainly go back to for drinks & perhaps a bite to eat.
Abney Park is a great band whose music might be described as “industrial punk with Eastern/Arabian influences” if not for the lyrics (check out their favorite, played twice last night, “Airship Pirate“). They had a great presence and awesome fan interaction (singing along, stopping songs in the middle because of a mistake, jokes, &c.). They play electric guitar, bass guitar, piano, violin, and djembe (yes, electric djembe) all of which have been steampunked out. And they play them well. This is not just a bunch of weirdos who think they’re a band. This is a band who is also a bunch of weirdos. But in their defense, so is their audience (watching the Artful Dodger and gentlemen with muttonchops mosh is friggin’ awesome). And so am I.
John nor I do this on a what you might call regular basis, so our steampunk was a little mild (although the darkened & sunken eyes that Jana pulled of on John were the perfect effect!) compared to
some most of those in attendance. Unfortunately, I do not have a corset on hand for just such events. This shall be remedied soon (hear that, John? lemmie know when they’re back in town). Nor goggles, nor top hat (though I should have spectacles somewhere, which I shall find & superglue to an appropriately dainty stick to hold to my face). John did admirably with $12 and a borrowed hat. And DH has a remarkable amount of steampunk stuff hanging around: too bad he has no inclination in that direction. But I think we did quite well on short notice and with no practice. I could totally get into this.
Since it was John, there was much emphasis that evening on absinthe, of which there was plenty to be had. We each had a shot of heavily sweetened absinthe from and we split a “Hemmingway”: a shot of absinthe mixed with champagne. We then went and sat down for a while. We ended the evening with Denny’s before slinking home, glad that, at 2AM none of my neighbors was around to ask what I was wearing.
I thoroughly enjoyed (and survived) the whole schmear: the dress up, the drinks, the people, the event. Who knew that heavy drinking was good for a cold? John & I met at the venue before the concert started and had a chance to wander into each of the little alcoves to check out the decor (John kept commenting on the attention to detail) as well as the people. And once again I have to give props to the effect of the Masque: people walked up to me as though they’d known me for years, “Those are awesome gloves!” and we’d start talking about little boutiques in Marin county. Staring is encouraged in this kind of a venue. Some of the people even had their own personas (I heard one gentleman introduce himself as Baron von [something german]). I found myself wondering who these people were in meatspace, for want of a better term. Do they wear goggles to their offices? Or are they corporate lawyers in the day light and corseted wenches only in the shadows of the Edison?
And what causes people to get into this? Cosplay at a con is one thing, but cosplay at a bar takes it to a whole nother level. I wonder if there isn’t some of the camaraderie of religion that attracts people to this: if you know they’re into [Jesus, Buddha, steampunk], you already have something in common. John mentioned that there was a notable increase in the amicability of the people at the Edison last night (as opposed to people in everyday life). And it was true: the gentlemen opened doors for each other & for the ladies (even if they were wenches). Perhaps some of the attraction of the Victorian lifestyle is the level of politeness that is acceptable in mixed company. I just like the corsets. And the gears. And I’m totally going to look for costume pieces the next time I’m at the army surplus store. This is totally my bag (and if not for John, I’d not’ve known!).
(It’s that time again – guest post from Zach time.)
(Image from Bloomsbury Auctions)
The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.
For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.
According to one blogger, the sentiments quoted above aren’t actually that new – similar ones were republished in Skeptic magazine in 1997. But even so, this reinforces them, plus they are getting a lot of press. So I am pleased by the news overall. But I think one should keep something in mind.
I recently helped a customer who kept calling me “honey”. Drove me crazy. First time he said it, I said, “Please don’t call me honey. My name is xJane.” He didn’t blink & did it again. The second time I dropped the “please” and the second sentence. The third time, I said it rather loudly & annoyedly, causing some entertaining glances & stares. It seemed to kick him out of his paternalistic mindset for at least a few minutes (he didn’t do it again).
I just got lunch at the local taco stand, which I love, and got called “señorita” by the owner. I smiled & we caught up, since apparently I’m a regular now. It made me remember the “honey” episode, though, since the diminutive (surely I’m a señora by now under any definition, but I’m younger than him) didn’t bother me.
I’ve decided it’s all about the tone and familiarity. I’ve been called honey, sweetie, deah (dear, for those not from Maine), and many of the like in many different languages. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes it doesn’t. The difference is in how it seems like it’s meant. In the first instance, “honey” kept being followed by similar condescensions, implications that I didn’t know my job, and odd looks. In the second, a warm smile & greeting preceded the diminutive. In the first instance, I felt like I was being treated as something less than the speaker; like a child who had stumbled into an adult world. In the second, I felt I was being treated as familiar (literally, “like family”). Technically, I suppose, “honey” is an endearment and “señorita” is a diminutive (literally, “something smaller”); but it was in the first instance that I felt smaller and the last that I felt endeared.
I have found that diminutives are often used by men and women from other cultures. This was true in each of the cases above, both spoke English with a slight accent, but certainly well enough for us to communicate (enough for the first man, for example, to have understood that he was annoying me; enough for the second not to have slipped into Spanish). I’m not certain that this is because it’s “okay” in these other cultures to act familiarly or if they know they can get away with it because they’re from another country (how many British women have called me “love”?).
It’s a fine line, obviously, between familiarity and condescension. I think the key here is don’t be linguistically familiar if you’re not socially familiar. In the first case, I had not met this man who called me honey, nor have I seen him since. In the second, I see the (dare I say gentle-)man often, and had seen him often before this particular linguistic episode. I’m struggling to think of familiar terms I use. I call people “dude” an awful lot, a habit I’m trying to break; yet somehow I see this as less familiar than “honey”.
I got my Graphire3 pen and tablet yesterday. I am hoping that someday, after I have progressed in the Way of the Adobe Illustrator, people will behold me with Wacom pen in hand and fear me. Right now the most I can elicit is a snicker. Here are the results of a few Illustrator intro tutorials and a late night with my new toy (with some inspiration from Jana’s sexy new glasses):
Getting this tablet makes me think of Jami Breese, the only person I’ve known to use one of these in place of a mouse. How long does it take to get used to this? Instead of clicking on icons, I keep dragging them around the desktop and into the trash bin.
it’s silly, i know, but in my attempts to attain the heavenly bliss of nirvana and non-attachment, apple is the tether that keeps me bound to this world, worshipping at adam smith’s altar. curse the ipod mini. in green. only $250::