Saturday, August 29, 2009

Parents: Beat Your Kids

Ok, this is something I'm REALLY fucking sick of.

Sunny and I were grocery shopping today with my stepson and two of his three kids, a three year old and a two month old.

Suddenly, the air was split by an ear-piercing scream. Had someone pulled a gun on someone? Had a display fallen over and pinned an old lady to the floor?

No, a parent had told their six or seven year old that he couldn't have the breakfast cereal he wanted.

For the next half hour that we walked around the grocery store, this little shit screamed, shouted, grabbed shit of shelves, threw things…and as we left was standing by the front door screaming, literally screaming, at the top of his fucking lungs for no goddamn reason.

Now, this kid wasn't alone. He wasn't even just there with his mother. He was there with both parents and what looked like an aunt and grandmother. What were these world-class role models doing while their kid was acting like a little shit?

Ignoring him…and occasionally asking him to be quiet in a low voice.

Ok, you pieces of shit, you worthless fucking parents. I know ignoring a kid when he's throwing a tantrum is a good tactic when you're at home…but when you're in the middle of a fucking crowded grocery store CONTROL YOUR FUCKING KIDS! Just because you're too fucking dumb to wear a condom and too fucking weak and retarded to control your kids doesn't mean I should have to put up with your little bastard screaming at the top of his fucking lungs and having to literally dodge the shit he keeps throwing because your shitty parenting means he has absolutely no fucking self control or self discipline.

He kids was at least six years old. He's old enough to know better. The only reason he's acting like a fucking animal is because you're a shit parent. If I'd have screamed like that in a grocery store at that age, I'd have been out of that place in less than a second, and I'd spend the rest of the trip in the back of the car…and that's after one of my parents had slapped the shit out of me.

Oh and before you fucking hippies out there start with how it's 'wrong' to physically discipline your kids, neither of my parents hesitated to give me a smack when I deserved it, and I didn't turn into a serial killer or some nutcase with intimacy issues…I turned into a normal human being who knew right from wrong and didn't scream and throw fucking tantrums in the middle of grocery stores.

Oh, he's 'creative'? You don't believe in 'violence'? You think your kid should be allowed to 'express himself'? How about I express myself by slapping the shit out of your bastard offspring because my ear drums are bleeding, I've just had to dodge a box of ballistic Cheerios, and your kid has just destroyed a display that probably took someone all morning to set up, just because you're too fucking lazy and stupid to discipline your own child?

Here's the deal. You start making your kid act like a fucking human instead of an animal, and I won't carry a rusty hacksaw to permanently remove you from the gene-pool to make sure you don't procreate again.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stats…Just Say No.

My reason for blogging has changed almost completely over the past few years.

When I first started almost five years ago, my 'objective' was the same as anyone's. I was going to write awesome posts and everyone was going to read them and tell me how awesome I was. Then I was going to get a book deal, get rich and famous and hire a 19 year old Swedish au pair despite the fact I don't have any kids.

Today, in all honesty, I don't care if I get any new readers or keep my old ones. Blogging has become something I do purely for fun and for a little bit of therapy. In fact, I regularly write blog posts that I have absolutely no intention of posting and never do. I just like writing.

However, I'm not saying I wasn't absolutely thrilled when Wil Wheaton linked to my review of his audio book and I got almost ten thousand hits in an hour, or when someone submitted my review of the new Indy movie to Stumbleupon and I went from a few hundred hits per day to over six thousand a day for a few weeks.

My point is, I can write about the stuff I like, or I can write about the stuff I know will be popular. I always choose the former…which is why this blog is filled with so many gargantuan posts with no comments.

However, I am a massive geek, which means I love looking at my stats…and that's a massive time sink that pretty much takes over my life when I check them once every month or so.

You see, if you sign up for Google analytics, you get a day by day graph of your visitors, where they came from, what search engine they used, what they searched for to arrive on your site…a massive amount of data.

With my last stat tracker, all I really got was how many hits I got that day. Google is just too much info.

I know it's not important, I know I don't actually care how many people read this crap…but the geek in me just won't let me rest until I discover why I suddenly got 500 hits in a couple of hours last Friday, when the overall average for that day is around 100 for the whole day.

Basically, don't check your stats, kids…just say no.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to Beat ‘Writer’s Block’

I'm going to start today's post with a declaration:

Writer's Block doesn't really exist.

Ok, I'm obviously going to have to defend that statement, so let me start by saying that the reason people have problems with Writer's Block is purely down to perspective.

As writer's we've all found ourselves in that position where we're ready to start banging our heads on the desk because we're 'stuck' halfway through a story, or staring at a blank page completely convinced that we've 'run out of ideas'.

It's impossible to run out of ideas. They're literally everywhere. Let's say I've got to come up with a story right this second, I look around…

There's a sealed envelope on my desk. It has a stamp on it…

Ok, someone uses stamps to smuggle drugs into the country by lacing the glue with LSD…what if these stamps get out into the general population?...what if someone takes them on a plane and drops one on the floor? What if the pilot sees it, picks it up and decides to write a postcard when they're in the air? What if the guy doesn't drop one on the floor, writes a postcard himself…but it turns out there's something wrong with the LSD and it turns him completely psycho? What if he starts hearing voices about how the pilot intends to crash the plane? What if it turns out he's right?

There's a good few ideas from glancing at my desk and seeing a stamp.

Now, what Writer's Block really is, isn't the lack of ideas, it's the lack of confidence in our ideas. If you're 'stuck' halfway through a book and 'just can't think of a way to get from point A to point B', chances are you actually have three or four ideas…you just don't think any of them are really good enough.

The trick is to give yourself a short deadline to come up with an idea you really like, and if you haven't thought of anything better by then, pick the best of your 'bad' ideas and carry on. You can always go back and change it later, or in the context of the whole 'thing', that 'bad idea' might just be the lynchpin that holds an awesome story together.

The simple truth is that sometimes a really bad idea is what makes a really, really good idea possible further on in your story. Plus, most of the time, it's not the idea that really matters, it's the execution of the idea that's important. How many times has someone described a movie to you, and you've thought the idea was stupid, only to watch it and love it? The opposite is also true. You hear about the concept for a movie, TV show or book…only to experience it and realize it's the worst crap you've ever wasted your time on.

In fact, it's really hard to tell what's a good idea and what's a bad idea until you try it out.

The thing that makes Writer's Block a real killer, however, is 'Brain Crack'.

You see, I think everyone has that one 'amazing idea' for a book or movie script, song or whatever inside them. The problem we have is that as long as that big idea stays in our heads, it can stay perfect. It's going to remain the idea that's going to make us rich, put us at the top of the best-seller list and show everyone who ever doubted us just how awesome we are.

As anyone who's ever tried to bring their 'big idea' into reality can tell you, actually acting on that idea is a whole other story, because the idea is never quite as perfect as it was in our heads.

That's where a lot of Writer's Block comes from. We get this amazing idea that gets us all excited and just itching to write…then we get stuck, but only the absolute best ideas will do, because this is our big idea and we don't want to spoil it by using anything less than 'A' material. So, our big amazing novel that was going to change the world gets about five thousand words put on paper, and then it languishes on our hard-drives or in our desks because of 'writer's block'…or more accurately, because we're unwilling to move forward with it because anything less than perfection just isn't good enough.

In the meantime, the successful writers are churning out page after page, because by allowing themselves to create work that is less than perfect, they're getting a ton of experience and learning what makes a good story and what doesn't and realizing that sometimes, the biggest success comes from the stupid, throwaway idea that occurred to you on the commute to work…and not the amazing 'big idea' you've been mentally nurturing since you where seven years old when you first decided you wanted to write.

Basically, you don't have 'Writer's Block'. You've never had 'Writer's Block'. All you've had is the lack of courage to execute one of your ideas because you felt it wasn't 'good enough'.

The big trick is to realize there really is no such thing as the one 'big idea', and that the first time you try something, chances are you're going to suck at it. However, even though that first idea might fail, what you've gained is a million times more experience of what makes a good story than the guy sill sitting on his couch, dreaming of signing books for his legions of adoring fans.

He cure for writer's block is to write. You have an infinite number of ideas. Pick on and run with it.

Go on, I dare you.

The Asshole Theorem

I read something yesterday that made me realize why there seem to be such an inordinate number of assholes out there.

You see, back in the early to mid-90's, some asshole did a study and realized that the school kids who got good grades, had lots of friends and were generally succeeding all had really high self esteem. Then, in a classic case of getting everything ass backwards, it was decided that these kids were doing well because they had such high self esteem….not that they had high self esteem because they were doing so well.

Basically, instead of coming to the logical conclusion that 'succeeding things makes you feel good about yourself', these idiots decided that 'feeling good about yourself makes you succeed.'

So, just about everyone bought into this because it's another easy 'quick fix' that requires no actual effort. Why study and work hard when 'if you just believe hard enough' you can get whatever you want? This is why winning and losing was taken out of school. It's why my cousin (a primary school teacher) is only allowed to mark work in green pen because red is too aggressive.

Suddenly, the disruptive kid wasn't an unruly little shi who needed discipline, he was 'creative' and needed to 'express himself'. Little Timmy, who came dead last in all his races on sports day got a trophy that was just as big and nice as Little Stevie's, who won all his races, because if we make a big deal out of Stevie's victory, it makes Little Timmy feel bad about himself.

In other words, we raised a whole generation of kids who spent their formative years being given rewards for nothing and being told their failures doesn't matter, because they're all wonderful people and it's the trying that counts.

All those kids who started school in the early 90's are rapidly approaching their twenties now.

So, right now, we have a whole generation of people with an over-inflated sense of entitlement. Despite having never actually earned a goddamn thing, they believe they should get whatever they want because they've spent their entire lives being told just how fucking awesome they are…and as numerous studies and real world examples have shown, they get aggressive when anyone calls their inflated sense of self-worth into question.

Inflating a kid's self esteem and making them feel just great about themselves no matter what they do doesn't make them successful. It just turns them into an adult who thinks the world owes them whatever they want.

Basically, feeling bad about yourself when you fail at something makes you work harder next time and makes you understand that you only get what you want by working for it. We raised a generation conditioned to feel good about themselves no matter what who think failure and poor performance warrants the same rewards that people who excel get.

That's why there are so many assholes. The guy who stole your parking space as you where backing into it doesn't think he's an asshole. He thinks he's an amazing, special person who really deserves that space because he's so important.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sketchbook + Boredom = Crazy Robot Wackiness!



Yeah, I hate it when the missus watches HGTV

Competitive? – Part 2

From your comments I get the feeling that people thought I was talking purely about online gaming yesterday.

I wasn't, that was just my most recent experience. Playing online, I expect to run into hyper competitive assholes…I just didn't expect the same level of competitiveness in what was a co-op game.

My problem is that I just can't understand the hyper-competitive mindset. If I'm playing any type of game, I play to have fun. As I said in my last post, I like to win…but I don't need to win. My response to an opponent, win, lose or draw is usually to thank them for the game. To me winning is a minor bonus and a very small reason of why I play anything.

Let me give you an example of the mindset I'm talking about:

I have never played any sort of game with my brother where I haven't caught him cheating. He's also the person who will kick the board over, turn off the game console or just try to pick a fight the second he starts to lose.

What I don't understand is how someone's mind can work like that. I mean, like anyone, I get a certain amount of pleasure from winning…but that's from the satisfaction of knowing I did something well. I would get absolutely zero pleasure from winning by cheating, because that's not a victory, that's just me making the whole exercise pointless. While I don't condone it, I can understand cheating if you're cheating to win a prize you really want…but cheating just to beat a family member or friend at a game of scrabble? Cheating to win just proves that the other person is better than you because you can't beat them without cheating, which to me is an automatic loss.

It's the same with 'kicking the board over'. I remember playing a golf game against my brother on the PC. We were playing an 9 hole 'skins' game, and when I won five out of the nine holes, meaning it was impossible for him to win the overall round, before I knew what was happening, he grabbed the mouse, opened the menu and quit the game.

I'd come to expect that kind of shit by then and just started laughing and told him how pathetic he was. He responded by getting aggressive, starting up his usual verbal abuse…while shouting that I hadn't beaten him, and that if I was so good at the game I could play him again. In his mind, he hadn't 'lost' because the game hadn't finished, and the fact I refused to play him again meant that I was 'afraid' to play him because I knew he'd beat me…and definitely not because I knew it was a day's worth of gloating if he won, and he'd just reset the game again if I started to win.

Oh, and in case you're thinking I'm talking about a ten year old here, I was about 17 at the time and my brother was 20.

That's the mindset I don't get. Where someone would rather embarrass themselves and metaphorically 'kick the board over' rather than admit to themselves they've lost a freaking game.

Competitive?

Ok, I have a question.

Am I really, really weird for not being competitive, or have I just been really unlucky about the people I run into?

To all intents and purposes, the only person I consider myself in competition with is myself. If I'm playing a game and the person I'm playing against beats me, that just tells me two things: One, the other person has just had more practice or has more natural talent than me, and; Two, I could probably use more practice.

Don't get me wrong, I like to win, but I don't need to win or take any pleasure knowing that I've beaten someone. I don't feel the need to gloat over a win or get pissed off over a loss.

For example, today I was playing Ghostbusters on Xbox Live and I played one of the few real competitive game types "Slime Dunk" where the winner is the person who captures the most ghosts. It was my first time playing this game type, and as you can probably guess, I lost.

Now, I actually thought this gametype was a lot of fun…or at least it would have been if my opponent hadn't felt the need to tell me how much I sucked, how much he was 'owning' me the entire time.

I just don't get it. First of all, I'm not going to feel bad that I lost a game on my first try, especially since I was playing someone who, from his score and rank, probably plays that same game for six hours or more every day. secondly, I don't understand how someone can get so pumped up about beating someone who told them straight it was their first time playing.

In very real terms that's like me having a real life target shooting contest with someone who's never held a rifle before. Is it really a 'victory' because I can beat someone at something that I have years of experience with, that they'd never tried before?

The worst part is that this hyper-competitive attitude especially ruins this game and a lot of other games that are supposedly 'cooperative'.

For example, my favorite game mode in Ghostbusters is 'survival'. Four players are attacked by wave after wave of ghosts and you 'win' by surviving ten waves. This would be a great game, except no-one I've ever played with realizes they're not competing against each other. You see, once the round is over, all the players are ranked on how well they did.

This leads to some seriously frustrating shit. For example, you're being swarmed by ten or more ghosts …but the other three players are fighting each other by trying to get the same ghost into three separate traps. Why? Because you get points based on how many ghosts you trap…so despite the fact that one person can wrangle a ghost into a trap just as easily as three, and it makes far more sense for everyone to wear a ghost down, then one player wrangle it into the trap while the other three go after another one or watch the wrangler's back while he's busy…instead you have here players slowly getting killed by other ghosts and monsters while they all fight over who gets the points for the single ghost they're all fighting over.

What this means is that in 9 out of every 10 games, you actually lose the game because your teammates are far more concerned about who's better than who than actually winning. Oh, and of course, the people who play the most selfishly are the ones with the highest score…which they then use as an excuse to abuse the rest of the team about how much they suck.

In fact, I've yet to see a single co-op game that doesn't feature some form of competitive twist.

Basically, you take a game that is most fun when everyone works together, and then you give all the players a major incentive to play selfishly.

Long story short, if I'm playing a co-op video game, I'm playing with my team-mates against the game. I don't give a shit who did the best or worst.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Morals

Earlier today I was talking to someone and the topic of religion came up. At some point during the discussion, the person I was talking to said:

"The main problem I have with atheists is that they don't have any moral code to follow. How can you know right from wrong if you haven't studied the Bible?"

You know what? I don't offend easily. I really takes an awful lot to personally offend me, but this person managed it in those two simple sentences.

You see, I've been an Atheist since I was about six years old. I don't believe in God, the Bible or any sort of afterlife…but I know right from wrong. Put simply, I don't need a holy book to tell me that it's wrong to kill, hurt or steal. I live my life by one simple rule: Don't be a dick. It's worked out well for me so far.

The part that honestly offends me is the idea that to be religious is to be moral and to be non-religious automatically makes you a bad person. This is just not the case.

A few years before I moved to America, one of the guys I worked with killed himself. To make things even worse, like a high percentage of suicides, he didn't leave a note. On Monday I was laughing and joking with him over a beer after work, and then next day when he didn't show up for work, I called his house and his father told me he'd hung himself. To this day no-one knows why he did it.

Now, I wasn't exactly close to the guy. We'd gone to the same high school about three years apart and we had worked together for about six months. We weren't what you'd call friends, but he was a good guy who was fun to be around, so on the day of his funeral I went along to pay my respects.

As I said above, I'm an Atheist. I don't believe in God or an afterlife, so to me, funerals are almost meaningless. However, as a decent human being, I paid my respects and spoke to his parents, telling them that even though I hadn't known their son long, and didn't know him very well, that I liked him, he was popular at work and we'd all miss him. This is what funerals are to me; a ritualized way to say goodbye and get some closure.

Then this happened:

"Well…" said his mother through the tears. "He's in a better place now."

I nodded.

"No he isn't!" Said a sudden, sharp voice. "He's in hell! You should read the Bible!"

There was a sudden slight scuffle as someone I later learned was great-aunt was grabbed by the arm and almost dragged away as she shouted how suicide is a sin and people who kill themselves go to hell.

You know, I've only seen one other person break down like his mother did at that moment, and it's not something I ever want to see again.

This is what I mean.

As an Atheist I'm supposed to be an evil, immoral heathen…but I know enough to know that talking to a grieving mother who has just lost her son is not the place to share my views on the existence or non-existence of an afterlife…and this was to a woman I had never seen before and would probably never see again. As far as I'm concerned the idea of going to heaven when you die is about as likely as going to Never-Never Land if you wish really hard…but my place at that funeral wasn't to try and convince anyone that their beliefs were wrong. My place at that funeral was to pay my respects and ease the burden on the family by showing them they weren't grieving alone.

On the other hand, a so called 'moral' Christian sees nothing wrong whatsoever with shouting about how her niece's son was burning in hell…at his funeral…because something written down in a book says that suicides go to hell.

That's not morality, that's not even being a decent human being. That's deliberately hurting a family member in a truly heinous way for absolutely no reason. Even if that's something you believe 100%, well…I was going to say that there's a time and a place, but to tell a grieving mother that her son is in hell, I can't think of a good time to share that viewpoint.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not tarring all Christians and the religious with the same brush, in the same way I'd never in a million years claim all Atheists are good, moral people…but that's kind of my point. Your beliefs and choice of religion don't make you a good or bad person, your actions do.

The one thing I can say is that in my entire life I have never knowingly or deliberately hurt anyone.

I'm an Atheist. That doesn't make me immoral

Paranoid much?

In my lifetime I have seen some pretty idiotic things and heard some really ridiculous ideas and theories, but this one takes the cake:

I got this in an email forward today.

If you can't or don't want to watch it, it's basically a short animation where someone dials up for pizza and the animation shows the order-taker's 'computer screen', which pulls up a crazy amount of information about the guy. For example, he orders two extra-meat pizzas and apparently the person taking the order can pull up his medical records and says he can only order those pizzas if he agrees to sign a waiver from his medical insurance company…then he complains about the price, the person sees he's just ordered two plane tickets to Hawaii, so he can't be short of cash, etc, etc.

Then, at the end, there's a 'take action' button, where you can go and sign a petition against the idea of a national ID card…because of course, if there's suddenly a national ID card, we'll be living in a 'Big Brother' surveillance society where anyone can know anything about you at any time for any reason. If we get a national ID card…something that anyone who drives a car essentially carries already, the teenagers at Domino's Pizza will have the sort of unrestricted access to your records that even the CIA and FBI don't have.

I say that if you believe that, you're one step away from wearing a tin-foil hat so the satellites can't steal your dreams.

You see, we already have a national ID card. It's called your drivers' license and your social security card. I hate to be the one to point this out, but if you're worried about 'them' knowing everything you do, you're about ten years too late. Worried that an ID card will let the government know exactly what you earn and spend, with the ability to gain access to your bank records without your consent? Oh shit! I bet they'll have some really scary name like, I dunno, The IRS?

Let me explain something. Let's say the government was this big shadowy evil organization that for some unknown reason wanted to spy on you…do you really think they'd need a national ID card accomplish it?

This really is the domain of idiots who live in a fantasy world. People who argue against ID cards, but happily pull out their drivers license every time they need to cash a check, buy alcohol…oh, and did you think you needed to give your social security number when you applied for your license just for fun?

The thing that really makes this laughable? The kinds of idiots who take this shit seriously are also the same people demanding something be done about the illegal immigrants and terrorists. We should be able to instantly identify American citizens, but they shouldn't have to carry any form of ID. They're the same people who scream that airport security should keep weapons off planes and then complain when they have to wait an extra half hour before they can board. They want crime at zero but don't want pay for extra police and really don't want surveillance cameras.

The longer I live, the more I'm convinced that the majority of people are ill-informed, selfish, reactionary, nimby morons of sub-par intelligence who want to have their cake and eat it too.

I mean, why apply a second's rational thought when you can just shout really loudly about things you don't understand?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Maxell Disc Scratch Repair Kit

A few weeks ago I posted about my success with the 'toothpaste trick' for repairing scratched DVDs. Unfortunately, while it worked perfectly for the $20 pre-owed game I accidentally scratched, it didn't work on the $60, brand new copy of Ghostbusters that I also managed to scratch.

The thing is, a radial scratch on a disc, one that goes across the 'grain' so to speak, from the center to the outside, isn't such a big deal. A circular scratch, on the other hand, one that follows the disc's spiral is a massive deal. Can you guess which I did?

I'd pulled the 360 out of the entertainment center because the cramped quarters of its shelf didn't allow for much air-flow and it was getting hot. Then, getting up for a drink, I managed to knock it over, meaning the face of the disc made contact with part of the housing in the drive… and I had two wide and deep scratches all the way around the disc.

The toothpaste trick didn't work, and to make matters worse, somehow a bit of grit had got under the cloth I was using to polish the surface, and I'd managed to put a ton of deep scratches all over the disc while I was 'fixing' it. After 'fixing' it, I had a disc that literally looked like I'd dragged it behind the car for a few miles that the Xbox wouldn't even recognize as a disc.

My only real hope was to buy a 'disc doctor' kit, but those are extremely expensive at around fifty bucks. It just didn't make financial sense. For fifty bucks, I could just wait a few months for the game to turn up pre-owned, but it again for twenty bucks, and still have enough for another game with ten bucks left over.

Yesterday, however, we were at the local pharmacy when I spotted the Maxell disc repair kit for just over ten bucks. It was worth a try.

I was disappointed as soon as I opened the package. From the outside it looks like you're buying one of the mechanical devices that actually polishes and re-surfaces the disc for you. Instead, what you get for your ten bucks is a pad that serves no purpose other than to hold the disc still while you polish it, a small bottle of 'scratch remover', a little spray bottle of 'cleaner, polish and sealer' and ten or fifteen polishing cloths. In other words, a thinner version of car wax, some ethyl alcohol and some cotton scraps.

I didn't expect much.

I put the scratch remover onto my disc (The instructions call for 'two spots on the problem area', considering my whole disc was a problem area, I just covered the entire surface with a thin layer), I left it to dry, buffed it off, gave it a quick spray with the polisher, buffed that off and tried it in the machine.

It actually worked. Well, at the very least, the 360 recognized it as Ghostbusters, and the game started. Unfortunately, the disc was still in very poor condition, which led to some very frustrating gameplay issues. It was odd, and not something I expected…but I was getting issues where a character would freeze while his dialogue would continue during in-game cutscenes…and it became a game-breaker when, after defeating a boss character, the game refused to recognize I'd beaten the boss, leaving me trapped there.

So, with nothing to lose I went against the kit's instructions a little.

Basically, I sat at my desk, put a few hefty blobs of scratch remover on the disc and then buffed the crap out of it for a whole episode of Stargate Atlantis, adding more scratch remover whenever necessart..

When I was done, the disc was almost completely mirror smooth. I put it in the 360, and it played perfectly without a hitch.

So, basically, I can really recommend the Maxell Disc Repair Kit. I can see it working amazingly well in a single application if you just have 'normal' scratches from wear-and-tear. However, even if you have really deep scratches from an epic mistake like mine, it has a really good chance of fixing them if you're willing to spend a little time and a little elbow grease.

Don't get me wrong, if you can afford it, I'd definitely recommend one of the kits that buffs the surface of your disc for you and does it perfectly uniformly…but for me, I'd rather spend the half hour to an hour polishing a disc manually and still have the other forty bucks in my pocket.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That’s so gay…

Ok, so I just had to comment on the weirdly titled "ThinkB4youspeak" campaign.

The motivation behind the idea is good enough. It's an attempt to stop kids using homophobic slurs…the problem is that it will never, ever work.

The people behind this campaign completely misunderstand who they're actually dealing with and are trying to spread their message in the wrong way. For example, their print ads take the saying "That's so gay." and attempt to flip it around into things like "That's so 'Jock who can complete a pass but not a sentence'" or "That's so 'cheerleader who like can't like say smart stuff'" and my personal favorite "That's so 'Gamerguy who has more videogames than friends.'"

I guess the idea is that the Jocks, Cheerleaders and Gamers read these ads and think "Oh wow, that hurts! Oh my god! Is that what gay people feel like when I make fun of them? I'll never say 'faggot' again!"

What will really happen is those kids will see these ads and say, totally unironically: "That's so gay."

The thing that the creators of this campaign are missing can be summed up by the copy from one of their ads:

When you say things like 'homo', 'fag' and 'dyke' trying to be funny, remember, you may actually be hurting someone. So knock it off.

They're assuming that they're just dealing with a bunch of uninformed kids who are saying words they don't know the meaning of and don't realize how offensive they're being. In reality, they're dealing with kids who know exactly what they're saying and are saying these things because it's hurting someone.

They've also made two big mistakes. Firstly, the people they're targeting with this campaign do what they do to get a reaction. They call you a 'pile of gay nigger shit' over Xbox Live or go into a forum specifically to tell everyone that they all 'suck big fat homo dicks' precisely to start arguments and get reactions from people. Exactly how big of a reaction is a whole internet, print and TV campaign? Secondly, they're trying to out-asshole the assholes by being confrontational and using stereotypes of their own. Why is this a bad idea? Because all they're doing is starting a massive flame war, only they have to stay on a leash while the people they're targeting don't.

In other words, we are literally minutes away from 'ThinkB4youspeak' becoming the latest 4chan meme with the photoshopped versions of their posters, altered to say some ridiculously offensive shit, become about a million times more common than the originals.

Long story short, the people they're fighting against thrive on attention and reactions, and they're fighting them by giving them a ton of attention, a massive reaction and are fighting them by playing directly into their hands. They're not making them stop, they're making them retaliate.

In all honesty, you just can't control what people do and say, especially online. The only way kids are going to stop calling each other 'gay' or 'homo' is when another, more offensive term comes along.

However, if you wanted to start a campaign to stop people being so offensive, engaging them and trying to beat them at their own game will never work. You treat them in the same way you treat a kid throwing a tantrum. You ignore them and deny them a reaction. There's no fun in calling someone a 'gay homo' when they don't get angry.

For example, I was watching a live webcast a few months ago by the Penny Arcade guys and they had a chat window up for the audience to ask questions. Mike Krahulik asked for questions and some idiot asked "Why are you such a homofag?"

Now, had Mike gotten angry and argued with the guy, or kicked him out of the chat room, that kid would have gone away and told all his friends how he totally pissed off the Penny Arcade dude because he'd sparked a reaction, disrupted the webcast and started a massive flame war. The next webcast would have been filled with that guy and his friends typing 'fag' over and over again, doing everything they can to piss as many people off as possible.

Instead, in his normal, serious tone of voice, Mike said: "Why am I such a homofag? Well, my father was a homofag, as was his father so I guess it's just part of my heritage." Then, without missing a beat, he went onto the next question.

Basically, he denied the guy a reaction, didn't get angry and took the guys joke and turned it on him. He reacted the same way a good comedian reacts to a heckler. He made the guy feel like an idiot and made sure everyone else was laughing at the guy instead of with him. The guy logged out of the chatroom less than a minute later.

ThinkB4youspeak is a nice idea, but it's the equivalent of trying to use logic and reason to argue with someone calling you a 'gay nigger homo' over and over again onthe internet. They don't care if they're right or wrong, they just want a reaction and the more you argue with them, the more they like it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Binary Society

I was listening to a British radio show when one of the presenters made a joke about how a particular UK newspaper was currently trying to divide the world into things that cause cancer and things that prevent cancer.

That joke started me thinking and I believe it shows something that's been happening over the past ten years or so: We've become totally polarized on everything.

There's no degrees any more. Things are either awesome or terrible. If you want an example, go and find someone and ask them what they think of Obama as President. The response you get will either describe him as some sort of savior who is going to fix everything, or describe him as the worst thing that's ever happened to America.

I'm not joking. I read a two thousand word blog post where the writer seriously compared Obama to Hitler and how he was going to single-handedly destroy America and possibly the world. Bush, of course, was close to Godlike.

But obviously people are going to have strong feelings about our President, right? It's not fair to say we're polarized on everything.

Oh yeah? Go ask that same person what they think of Apple computers…or video games or socialized healthcare.

That's the problem in a nutshell. No one appears to have the brains anymore to look through all the marketing and propaganda and see the simple truth that should be obvious.

For example, go type 'Mac vs PC' into google and prepare to be amazed. You'd never guess that these almost religious icons those zealots are fighting over are just laptops. You'd think that by now someone would have said:

"You know, macs are really reliable and super user-friendly, but for that reliability and ease of use, you sacrifice the ability to upgrade and customize your own computer. It's basically a trade off."

It's not just that we've gone so binary on everything, It's that we're so passionate and polarized over things we know nothing about. For example, at a 'town hall' meeting to discuss socialized healthcare, one older gentleman stood up and exclaimed:

"Keep your government hands off my medicare!"

If you don't understand the sheer irony of that, let me spell it out for you. Medicare is basically government-funded, socialized healthcare for the elderly…which is basically like taking a bus to a rally to ban public transport.

I just don't understand this type of thinking.

Basically, I think things would be a lot better and run a lot more smoothly if everyone could just acknowledge that there's a middle ground. When you argue one idea against another in terms of its pros and cons you tend to come up with a third idea that's better than the first two.

Instead, we argue right and wrong, true and false, one and zero. My idea is the perfect solution and yours is the worst idea ever.

Then the idea that wins is never comes close to what it originally promised which just gives more ammo to the next guy that comes along.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Evan’s Softball

Fellow blogger Evan said he'd like to hear my thoughts on this article.

Here goes:

Here's the deal. Right now hundreds of lobbyists are attacking health care reform under misleading, euphemistic names such as "Citizens for Patient Rights". They claim that with health care reform, you'll be told which doctors you can and can't see, there'll be massive waiting lists and the overall quality of healthcare will plummet.

These lobbyists are using the British NHS as an example of how bad things will be. Well, let me paint a picture of how 'bad' the NHS is.

Last year my Mum wasn't feeling very well, she thought she just had a stomach ache, but when it persisted for a few days she decided to go see a doctor.

It turned out she had bowel cancer.

Now here's the real horror story about how terrible the NHS is. Brace yourself, because it is disturbing:

She was diagnosed, operated on, given six months of chemo, went to numerous follow up visits, was given multiple scans and tests and a few months ago was given a final all clear. She wasn't charged a single penny for any of this. She also told me how nicely she'd been treated and how much the Doctors did to put her at ease, explain things to her and keep her involved every step of the way.

Now let's look at the flip side of the coin shall we? Let's look at America's 'best in the world' healthcare.

About two months ago I started feeling really sick. I had terrible headaches, no energy and generally felt like crap. I didn't go to a doctor because, like 46 million other people in this country, I can't afford insurance. In fact, thanks to a previous ailment, I'm currently getting daily collection calls because my local hospital charged me over $1400 dollars for a throat swab and ten bucks worth of pills.

Then, about a month ago, I woke up in the morning to discover I was almost completely blind. With my glasses on, I couldn't see anything more than about eight feet away. Without my glasses, the world was a multicolored blur. We called Sunny's doctor, explained that I'd more or less gone blind and we were told that because I wasn't a registered patient I'd have to go to the doctor's office, fill out a ton of forms and then the doctor would decide if she wanted me as a patient or not. They said I'd probably know whether I'd been accepted 'in a month or so'.

So, not being able to afford another trip to the emergency room, we went to a 'Doctor's Care' office where they literally took my debit card from me before I went in to see the doctor, and held it to make sure I would pay. After an hour's wait in an examination room, the doctor walked in asked what was wrong, and while I was literally halfway through a sentence explaining my symptoms he said interrupted and said "We'll do a blood sugar test." And turned his back on me and left.

I wish I was exaggerating there, but I was literally halfway through a sentence and he interrupted me and abruptly left. You see, the less time he spends with me, the more people he can see and the more he'll get paid.

A nurse came in and took my blood sugar with the same type of meter you can get for 10 bucks from the local pharmacy.

Half an hour later the Doctor walks back in, says "Yup, you have Diabetes!" in the same way someone might tell you your shoelace is untied, writes a prescription and leaves with a "Pay at the front desk."

I was given no information, no instructions about what I need to do…I actually had to feel my way out into the corridor and shout him back to ask whether my eyesight was permanent and if not, how long it would take to clear up. "It'll clear up after a few days when you take the pills." He said, like he was talking to an annoying child.

So I went to the front desk and for my blood sugar test (which I already knew and told him because I'd used my wife's meter) and for the fifteen seconds he spent with me, I was charged just under $200 and it was about $50 more for the pills. We lived on canned soup and mac and cheese that month to pay for it.

Now can you see just how terrible the British NHS is and how socialized healthcare is a really bad idea?

Basically, right now in America, the Health Care system is the very definition of a seller's market. The Healthcare Industry can literally charge whatever they want. That's why my stepson went to the emergency room for an infected abscess under his tooth and was charged $300 to be given two over-the-counter Tylenol and be told that there was nothing they could do and he should go see a dentist…which he couldn't afford which was why he was at the emergency room in the first place.

These people lobbying aren't concerned about the quality of our healthcare. They don't want healthcare reform because it's going to take a lot of money out of their pockets. Healthcare reform means the pharmaceutical companies can't sell pills for a hundred dollars each and hospitals can't charge five hundred bucks for a five-dollar wrist support.

The only other obstacle is the idea that socialized healthcare means you'll suddenly be told which doctors to see, which hospitals you can go to and instead of your nice private room you'll be forced into a ward with fifty other people. The truth is nothing like that. Just because socialized healthcare is available doesn't mean you can't choose to pay for private insurance and go to private doctors and hospitals. About 20% of British people do just that.

If you have that great job and the really good insurance that goes with it, you can still see the same doctors in the same hospitals and get the same level of care. The difference is that for less than one half of one percent of 2009's defense budget, the one in five Americans who can't afford to get sick can get the care they need.

The truth is that the British NHS does have its problems and socialized healthcare isn't a perfect solution. However, if you take nothing else away from the post take this:

Arguing against Healthcare Reform is arguing against imperfect healthcare in favor of NO healthcare for one in five Americans.

That's the main point here. People are claiming that receiving no healthcare at all is preferable to being put on a waiting list before being seen by a doctor for free. One in five Americans can't afford health care and almost half of those who can have to go into debt just for their co-payments. In reality, Americans who can afford comprehensive healthcare are a small minority.

In 2009, Americans are dying of easily treatable diseases because of nothing more than simple greed.

It honestly makes me sad that people are up in arms when someone suggests that a tiny percentage of their taxes go to help their fellow Americans get healthcare…but have absolutely no problem paying a doctor a hundred thousand dollars for a five thousand dollar procedure just because the Doctor likes money and can charge whatever he feels like.

There's the best way to look at it. What would you rather do? Help save your neighbor's life? Or help some pharmaceutical exec decorate his third home?

As a final note, if you don't think things are 'all that bad', I ask you to defend this:

A couple of months ago, my wife collapsed at work and was rushed to hospital. By the time I got there she was in a bed in intensive care. It was well over an hour before a Doctor came to see her, do any sort of diagnostic work or talk to me about whether my wife would regain consciousness or not.

However, someone from the 'Business Office' was in her room to get her insurance and payment information within five minutes of me arriving.

Under the current healthcare system in America it takes over an hour and a half for a doctor to see you when you get rushed to hospital…but they can get someone in there to make sure you can pay in less than five minutes.


 

Follow Up

Commenting on my last post, A. Reid said:

“This is part of the "anyone with a PC" can be an expert syndrome.
My friend who is a professional photographer says digital has killed her industry. No one wants to pay for something they can "do themselves- just as good" NOT.”

I wasn’t sure which way to take this. Are you saying that the advertisement’s creator was an ‘instant expert’ or are you saying I couldn’t do better and *I* have ‘anyone with a PC’ syndrome?

Well, both ways I have a similar response, so here goes:

I am far from a video editing/special effects expert. My only official training was Media Studies at college and considering that was back in the mid-90’s, that training is hopelessly out of date. Since then, however, it has been something of a hobby…meaning I’m reasonably skilled at Photoshop, AfterEffects and various video editing programs.

My point was that the ‘Better Upstate Jobs’ ad wasn’t just unprofessional looking, it was so bad that I, as a hobbyist, thought it was terrible. Imagine if a 90 year old grandma had never touched a computer before and for some reason decided to take a week-long course in video effects and editing at a crappy night school. This ad would be her coursework.

Basically, I wasn’t saying I was good with video editing and effects, I was just pointing out that someone has paid some real money for someone to create this ridiculous advertisement for them.

That’s the best way I can describe it. It was the teenagers Myspace page of advertisements. All spinning writing, lens flares and hopelessly ugly and difficult to read fonts in clashing colors.

Just as a comparison, take a look at this:

video

This is something I made a few days ago in about 10 minutes because I was bored. I didn’t post it before now because I didn’t like the way it turned out. I don’t like the way the black bars on the ‘hologram’ move, when I motion-tracked the background video, I only tracked X and Y motion and not depth or rotation (which is why in a lot of places the hologram moves independently of its ‘projector’), the sound needs work and there are a few sync issues.

My point is that this video is something I made on an aging PC running almost ten year old software in ten minutes…and this is Industrial Light and Magic quality next to the ‘professional’ video. I’m not saying this in an ‘I’m awesome’ kind of way, but I honestly could do better with half an hour and ‘Windows Movie Maker’.

As for your photographer friend, the 'digital revolution' is a two edged sword. It's not just that people think they can do just as well with a digital camera, it's because a ton of people think a five hundred dollar Digital SLR and an ad on craigslist or in their local paper makes them a professional photographer.

Personally, I never hire photographers, and it's not that I can get 'professional results' with my digital camera, it's just that I've seen way to many 'professionals' who are nothing of the sort.

For example, when I worked as a bartender, I was working at a wedding and started to talk to the photographer they'd hired. Again I'm a hobbyist (albeit one who used to develop his own pics in his own darkroom before digital came along) so I started to 'talk shop' with the photographer.

Turned out he didn't know what a f-stop was and had never manually focussed his camera. He said, and I quote:

"Nah, I don't need any of that, I just set my camera to 'A' (automatic), and it does all that shit for me."

Basically, it's not just people who think they can get just as good results as the professionals...it's also the people who buy a digital camera and think they are professionals.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Maybe I could do THAT job

Right now in South Carolina there are ads running for a website called "Better Upstate Jobs".

I tried the website and it's absolutely terrible, they have a handful of crappy jobs listed and the website looks like cutting-edge webdesign, right from 1996.

It's not the website I'm writing about though, it's the TV ad. I know local businesses don't have the advertising budget of the international corporations, but while the website is bad, the TV ad looks like it was put together on a Commodore 64 by a blind idiot who's design concept was 'flying and spinning text is really, really cool." I mean, why have text just sitting still where you can read it when 'My first video editor' has all these awesome presets so your text can bounce around the screen and spin at the same time.

Oh, and it appears that someone ran a google search for their images and doesn't watch very much TV, because as the pictures representing the different types of jobs you can find spin and fly onto the screen, the one for janitorial work shows the Janitor from 'Scrubs'.

Yeah…don't steal images from the web, because when you type 'janitor' into google and steal the first image you find (that you figure is probably from some local website no one has heard of), you just might be stealing an image belonging to a very popular studio.

It honestly makes me sad because while I have almost no formal training in special effects and video production, I watch this ad that some 'production company' probably got paid a couple grand for…and know I could do better in a couple of hours with my aging, five year old PC.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Michael Jackson

Ok, I deliberately waited to write this post, but I think enough time has passed now to where this isn't completely distasteful.

I am sick to fucking death of hearing about Michael Jackson. Here's why:

A week before he died:

"Michael Jackson? He's a fucking pedophile. The only reason he's not in jail right now is because he's so fucking rich! Did you see it when he dangled his son over the balcony? He should have gone to jail for that alone. The guy's a sick freak!"

The day after he died:

"Oh, what a tragedy! He was the King of Pop and his death is a tragic loss to the world!"

Oh, and that last one should also include "…so…do you want to buy these memorial mugs, posters, books and special edition magazines?"

My point is that shortly before his death, no-one but his die-hard fans gave a fuck about Michael Jackson. In fact, I'd say the average person actively disliked him. He was the melted-face weirdo who fiddled with kiddies and got away with it because he had more money than God. He pops his clogs and suddenly it's 1985 again.

What I'd love is if someone had he balls to call the press on it. So when Journalist McNobody is trying to make a name for himself by writing a long, heartfelt piece on the 'tragedy' of Jackson's death, someone would just say "Hey, dude…aren't you the guy who wrote that piece last week saying that Jackson's a dirty pedo who should be locked up?"

It was the same when Princess Diana died. A week before all the newspapers were calling her a publicity whore and saying how 'disgraceful' it was that she was dating Dodi Al Fayed, how she should be ashamed of herself…but hours after she died, suddenly she was the greatest human who ever lived. The really funny part was how the newspapers started running special editions containing her life story, including how she was often 'treated unfairly by the press and subject to numerous baseless accusations'…somehow forgetting to mention that most of those 'baseless accusations' came from the very same paper.

Here's the deal:

Michael Jackson is either a genius musical genius who never harmed anybody and is a real loss, or he's a scumbag pedophile. He's not both.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quick thoughts:

Well, I finally beat Farcry 2 today, but after completing the single player campaign, my main impression is that Farcry 2 suffers from a problem that's becoming all to common.

You see, Farcry 2 is absolutely gorgeous. I mean it's jaw-droppingly beautiful, from the way the sunlight shines through the trees to the grass swaying in the breeze. It's the first game I've ever played that's made me believe that 100% photo-realism is possible.

The gameplay? Meh.

Unfortunately, that's what the games industry seems to focus the vast majority of its time on. Not making sure games work and are bug free, not making sure they're actually fun, but making sure that they're a lot prettier and shinier than the last one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for great visuals and quality art direction, but in Farcry 2, while I really appreciate the way the foliage breaks apart and reacts realistically when my bullets fly through it…I'd much prefer to have plants that don't react and have Ubisoft fix the buggy AI and some of the glaringly obvious gameplay issues.

Sadly, the same was true of the first Farcry. Farcry 1 had huge open landscapes that where stunning for the time, but so much time was spent on making the game pretty, no-one realized that super-fast bad guys that could kill you with a single hit where incredibly frustration.

Let's just say Farcry 2 continues this tradition.

For example, whether the bad guys see you appears to be completely random. I've been hiding behind tall grass in the shadow of a cliff at midnight wearing camo and I've been spotted by a guy 500 yards away who can somehow see right through a solid tree. I've also charged into a guard post, blown a bad guy's head off with a shotgun, only to have the guy standing three feet away not react at all.

Yeah, the scenery is beautiful enough to make me stop regularly just to enjoy the view, but if it comes down to a choice of realistic bad guys or realistic plant life, I'll take the realistic bad guys.

There are also some real issues that I can't believe didn't come up during testing, things hat are actually simple to fix. I understand that game developers work to strict deadlines and sometimes things like recoding all the AI just aren't possible…but would it have been so hard to allow console players the option to save anywhere instead of save points?

Now, normally, save anywhere versus save points could be argued all day. However, in Farcry 2, it can sometimes take twenty minutes or more just to get to where your mission starts…and that journey might include numerous battles.

Basically, travelling for twenty minutes to get to your mission, spending a further twenty minutes sneaking through an enemy infested encampment before dying and having to start all over again just isn't fun. More than once I threw down my controller in frustration…would it be so hard to have a 'save' option in the menu?

Basically the games industry needs to learn a lesson:

It doesn't matter how good a game looks if it isn't fun to play.

Here's the thing, your average gamer will forgive poor visuals if the game is fun, but it doesn't work the other way around. Just look at something as simple as Pac-Man or Geometry Wars. Geometry Wars was Xbox Live Arcade's 'killer app' and people are still playing Pac-Man almost thirty years after its release. Why? Because they're a hell of a lot of fun.

On the other hand, remember "Bad Boys: Miami Beatdown"? Neither do I…because it was shit.

Yes, we want our games to look good, but the most important thing is fun.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Stoopid dreams…

You know what one of the most depressing a disappointing things in the world is?

When you're having an awesome dream that you're doing something really cool or have something you've always wanted…and then you wake up and you realize not of it is true.

For example, last night I dreamt Sunny and I were getting on a plane to visit my parents in the UK, and I was thinking how cool i was going to be to see all my friends and family again, I'd get to take Sunny to all my old haunts and hang outs and it was going to be so awesome.

So I have the ticket in my hand, I'm climbing the steps onto the plane, telling Sunny about all the cool stuff we were going to do…and I woke up.

Reality sucks.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Get Off My Internet

I couldn't sleep tonight so I decided to switch on the Xbox and play a game until I got sleepy. I don't know why, but I found myself reaching for Halo 3 again.

I played a few rounds and discovered I was having a really good time. Halo really suits my play-style because those shields give you that extra second's reaction time instead of starting a round and just getting head blown off over and over again without ever knowing where the shot came from.

I had a moment where I started asking myself why I ever stopped playing. I definitely enjoy a sci-fi setting over WW2 and I also enjoy the more action based gameplay.

Then, in my third and fourth round, I remembered why I quit.

The third round was an awesome back-and-forth game where the lead was being taken and retaken every few seconds. I pulled off some spectacular kills and was killed in some spectacular way as well. The round ended and my team lost by 48 kills to 50. Just two kills in it. We get back out into the lobby and I'm just about to say "Hey, great game everyone!" when out of nowhere:

"Thanks for the game, blue team!" Said a red-team member. "You all fucking suck, you useless bitches."

"Yeah, we owned you, you fag mother-fuckers."

I got halfway through the fourth round listening to a bunch of idiot kids throwing around the usual racist and offensive bullshit before I turned off my Xbox in disgust.

I have to ask. Are you lives so pathetic, have you achieved so little that the only way you can feel good about yourselves is to let loose with a bunch of verbal abuse and disgusting racial epithets aimed at total strangers? Are you honestly that weak and small minded that you can only work out your aggression when you're safely hidden behind the anonymity of your screen name?

It's a fucking game. You don't need to gloat and try to rub it in when you score a kill against me (like you've actually achieved something gloat-worthy), and you don't need to literally scream into your headset when someone has the audacity to kill you. If you honestly can't handle competition like a real person, you've no business being online.

Yeah, it's true, I could always just mute my headset, but my point is, I shouldn't have to.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Marie Shooting a Shotgun

Did a little shooting today with my stepson... When my daughter-in-law came to pick him up, she wanted to shoot my shotgun.

Note the complete lack of hesitation she has between "I'm ready" and pulling the trigger.

video

After editting the above video, I couldn't help but pull out After Effects and have a bit of a play:


video

Feel free to comment...

What is it about any website’s ‘comments’ section that brings out the morons?

Ok, let me make a few things clear about that ‘comment’ button:

1) No one cares if you’ve just finished your first semester at college and your professor really ‘opened your eyes’. No one gives a shit about your pseudo-intellectual ramblings where you talk about the socio-political climate of the western world in the comments under ‘dog pees on grandma’ video.

2) If you have something to say, say it clearly and learn how to spell. I’m not being a grammar nazi, but most youtube comments look like a racist scrabble player trying to use the last of his letters.

3) On the internet you will regularly find yourself exposed to people with very different views to your own. This is an opportunity to discuss some important issues, not call a random stranger a ‘ghey fag’ because he said Naruto was shit.

4) There are literally millions of places online where you can air your views in an appropriate setting. Basically, don’t start bitching about global warming or how the moon landing was faked under a blog post about whether Spider-Man could take Batman in a fight.

5) Don’t be abusive just for the hell of it. The worst video on youtube, the worst picture on Flickr or the worst drawing on Deviantart is a million times more worthwhile than your comment saying it was shit. They created something, you didn’t.

6) Believe it or not, reading a Wikipedia article or watching a Discovery special does not make you an expert. Here’s nothing more pathetic that a group of teens arguing “M16 vs. AK47” when no-one involved in the argument has held or used either weapon. Also, having played the entire Call of Duty series doesn’t make you an expert on World War 2 history.

7) Your point of view isn’t automatically correct. Just because you disagree with something doesn’t make it wrong.

8) Remember Godwin’s Law (also known as reductio ad hitlerum). The first person to call his opponent a Nazi, or compare him to one, loses.

9) You aren’t as clever as you think you are, you aren’t as funny as you think you are and when you troll, everyone thinks you’re an asshole, not a comedian.

10) Finally, arguing over the internet is like playing tennis without a ball while wearing assless chaps. It’s pointless, you look stupid and no-one ever wins.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Legolas I ain’t

In my continuing quest to find a hobby that Sunny and I can enjoy together, Sunny made the mistake of saying she quite liked archery as a kid. A few days ago, my parents had a bit of a windfall and sent us a few dollars to treat ourselves…so we went to our local sporting goods store and bought a cheap bow.

Now, I don't wish to toot my own horn, but when it comes to shooting sports I have some talent. I put four out of four shots in the 9 & 10 rings my first time with a handgun, and the first time I held a rifle it fit into my shoulder like it belonged there. In my first half hour I was putting rounds through the same hole at 100 yards.

Basically, it if involved sending a projectile down range to hit a certain point on a target, I'm there.

So I figured I'd be good at archery. I'm basically using one stick to fire another stick at a target…how hard could it be? You put the arrow in the string, pull the string back, point the arrow where you want it to go and let go of the string.

Fifteen minutes later I'd destroyed three of my five arrows, the inside of my left forearms was bruised to hell and I was convinced that there was something wrong with the bow, the arrows or a combination of both. I'd shoot an arrow and it would sail right over the target. The next would spear off to the side or hit the ground and pinwheel off into the distance.

I didn't even know it was possible to put nock an arrow upside down.

So I did what all geeks do. I consulted google.

It turns out that archery is a lot more complex than I first thought. Just like scoring a 100 yard hit with a .22 is all about judging wind, bullet drop and controlling your breathing and heart-rate…shooting a bow isn't just about pulling a string back and letting it go. Something as simple as the angle of your hand on the actual bow can make a massive difference.

Anyway, after fifteen minues with google, I gave it another try…and I still suck… but at least I'm hitting the target and my shots are becoming somewhat consistent.

Like I said, Legolas I ain't…but I can put an arrow in a 12" circle at about 20 yards instead of just 'somewhere over there'.


 


 

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Signs you’re not quite a grown-up yet.

MC Etcher's comment on my last post made me realize something.

While I have no idea what I would do if we were suddenly struck by a tornado, flood or forest fire, I know exactly what I would do on a minute-to-minute basis for the first six months of a zombie apocalypse.

I feel exactly like one of the character' from one of this week's XKCDs. I feel like I stopped maturing in my mid teens and I've just been faking it ever since.


 

PS. In a zombie apocalypse, don't go to the nearest Walmart. Everyone will have that idea and those big glass doors make that place really hard to secure. Malls are death traps as well.

PPS. Oh, and gun stores are also bad idea. Their owners are heavily armed, probably jumpy and don't want to share anyway.

PPPS. Remember, they're only vulnerable to head shots.