Hypocritical Hyperbole

The Abomination of Obama's Nation

The inherent hypocritical nature of Social Activism July 26, 2010

Filed under: Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 21:08
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As some of you may have recognized, I’ve moved into that phase in my life where I want to effect some level of social change, somewhere. Anywhere, really, and I’m just stupid and egotistical enough to believe that I quite possibly could do it somehow. I’m hitting this phase a little late in life, but letter late than never right? Gotta do something now before I become weary and all dreamcrushed like the rest of you old farts.
The problem is that I don’t believe in absolutes (save for one, but that’s special). I have a really hard time rallying troops to my cause because I like to listen to the other side before brutally shutting them down. They might have a good idea in there.
There’s also the issues of boycotts and stuff like that. The way the world works it’s just too hard to effectively riot against something. If you decide that proctor and gamble is evil you actually won’t hurt anyone in control of P&G, it’ll actually hurt all the poor workers first. Billionaires are going to make their money, if that means hurting the little people to do it, then they’ll do it. So I can’t call for wholesale boycotts.
What if I pick out one flaw in the system to rail against? It is inevitable that I am, in my life, doing something condemnable on another front. Or maybe there’s another more worthwhile cause that’s not getting my attention. I can’t save the world, but that’s the point of activism, to change the world.
So the truth of it all is, you can only do what you can do. Pick a target and go for broke. I do wish I had entered this phase younger when I wasn’t nearly as disgustingly rational as I am now. Realism kicks the pants out of plans to be a social activist.

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All time No Brainer July 19, 2010

Filed under: Books — Micah Griffin @ 20:24

I just read a couple of reports online about how the Kindle is selling more digital copies of new books than physical hardcover copies. BOOKS ARE DEAD! Orrrrr, $10 is much better than $35. All the analysis in the world can’t change that. I’m a book person, I don’t own a Kindle or Nook or Sony eReader or Kobo (look at that equal opportunity shill). That said, I buy most of my books second hand, or read them from the library. I like pages. I like laying upside down with the book. I like squashing flies with it. Putting my drink on it. Using books to build a fort. I love all that stuff. What I don’t love is paying $30 for a brand new copy. That’s just not coo.

I understand that this is tracing NO new ground. I just wanted to put in my two cents on this issue. I hope publishers and those folks get the right info from this and don’t jump to improper conclusions. What this does not mean is that books are dead.  That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. No wonder they get “D”s in everything. Don’t think that people aren’t interested in physical copies, or that only a small dedicated hardcore fanbase wants physical copies for collectors purposes.

Naw, people like physical books. They like hard covers. They like paperbacks. They LOVE mass market paperbacks. Those are the best things on the planet. No matter how cool Nooks are, you will never be as comfortable with those guys at the beach or poolside as you are with a trusty $6 mass market paper back. Ask around, you’ll see.

All publishers need to do is look deep. Don’t go for the sensational headline and try to change your entire business strategy (actually your stupid strategy should have changed years ago, just not for this reason). Just find out why people like digital versions. (cause you can get them instantly and cheap. There’s no barrier to entry once you own the device). People are buying these things in bulk and never reading them. How insane is that?

 

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are GO!

Filed under: comics — Micah Griffin @ 20:16
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This is just a placeholder to see how terribly DC botches this. They’ve completely and totally destroyed Milestone after the merger. That property is just dead in the water now. They came close to assassinating the archie characters but at least they’re giving a go at making them universe relevant. More a go than the Milestone characters ever got. I’m not sayin’ I’m just sayin. Now the third acquisition of last year is getting it’s go. It’s been over a year since they announced they owned the T.H.UN.D.E.R. Agents licence and in November they’ll finally do something with them. I’m torn. One part of me wants this to be a phenomenal failure like Milestone was, the other part of me really likes the absurdity of the characters and wants them to find a niche in the Universe.

Actually it doesn’ matter, not like I’ll be reading any DC Comics when this comes out. So for the poor sods who will be reading, here’s hoping it’s good.

 

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – The one with only the words in it. July 18, 2010

Converting things from one medium to another medium is always a tricky beast. A story that works great in one form doesn’t always work well in the other. The absolute best forms of each medium are ones that cannot be done in another. There’s no way you can take the best comic and make it into a novel or a book. Same with the best Novel. The medium that I feel is most exemplary of this is Video Games.

Book Cover

Only one of at least 200 Storm troopers destroyed in this book

Other things you do for entertainment consumption are generally passive. Sure, some plays you go to use crowd participation, but usually you just sit there and let the actors do their jobs. Same with books, movies, comics, music, and interpretive dance. With games, nothing happens unless you make it happen.  Now, you may only  be able to make happen what the developers want you to make happen, but it still stands that to get  enjoyment out of it you have to do something. You are more or less in control of the actions of the characters.

There is a lot more  that goes into it, but that’s the big issue. The video game of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is my favorite Star Wars based game since Republic Commando (They’re both on steam). It’s a very enjoyable experience, and it does a wonderful job of filling in one of the story gaps between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars story. The writers were working with some hard constraints as to what they  could an could not do with the story, and they did a smash bang job.

I was surprised at how much ‘canon’ they were allowed to play with. This story effectively made itself a HUGE  part of star wars lore in a way most Extended Universe stories can’t and don’t. They essentially went in a way where “A New Hope” doesn’t happen if not for the events of this game. I found that kind of cool. One of the things Lucas Arts wanted to do with this story was branch it into many paths. The video game was the main focus, that’s the money maker. The comic book and the Novel were just nice additions. The story is good enough that a decent writer should be able to catch and enhance the good parts of it. The comic that Haden Blackman did with Brian Ching and David ross was very good. It was a straight forward adaptation with good enough artwork. Nothing to complain about, and for the $7 I spent on it I was very very well pleased.

I just picked up the Novelization from Sean Williams from the library and ran through it. It’s been over a year since I read the comic or played the game. I enjoy the story so much that it was a joy to get back into it in a different way. As a book it is a quick read. The only thing that might slow someone down is the rare use of made up Star Wars words. The game talks a lot about the different Jedi Fighting styles which don’t mean ANYTHING to people who have seen the sun in the past forty years. It really is kind of dumb. They’re brief mentions, and I guess if you are familiar with all those fake martial arts terms then it’ll help paint a visual, but otherwise it’s all gobblygook.

Williams does do a nice job of showing instead of telling. Which is a hard thing to explain in novels. I was afraid that the novelization would fall into the trap that most video game adaptations fall into, which is just bullet point telling you what happened in the game. They don’t actually convey the plot as a story.

The biggest downfall to this book is that it is ultimately based on a video game. Some of the conceits you give to a game because you know what you’re working with there you may not give to a book. I LOVE adventure stories. I love the notion of exploration and finding new environments. I also understand that costs A LOT of money to develop in a game. Building new worlds from the ground up isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. So if during a game you change an environment some so that when I revisit it I feel it’s a little different, but not terrible I’m okay with that.

When I’m reading a book, that is not what I want to have happen. I don’t want to go all fetch questy. I don’t want to end up where I just was an hour ago. Not enough time passes while reading a book to really warrant seeing three of the same places twice.  It just feels kind of funny. I wonder if people unfamiliar with the game will feel the same way, though. Or will they just not understand what’s happening or why it’s happening.  It’s possible you’ll be more accepting of it than I am.

That complaint aside the characterizations here are spot on. This story is really about Darth Vader’s secret apprentice’s movement from being an unknowing pawn in a grand game to a knowing pawn trying to move himself on the board. Maybe even being a rook or a bishop or something cooler than a pawn. The Apprentice, No Name Starkiller, starts off as a nondescript evil person sent on a series of errands to blow fools up. Through various interactions with his pilot, Juno Eclipse, and is trusty droid, Proxy, he quickly becomes someone fun to follow, if not quite sympathetic. PROXY isn’t as loveable here as he is in the game, but that’s to be expected. (I apologize in advance for the following phrase) the nuance of his character work in the game is just pretty close to imposible to catch in words. Williams trys, but you never get the full fun sense of a robot’s who’s primary job is to kill his master in the book. Imagine Cato Fong, but going for blood instead of goofily flustering Inspector Clouseau.

The book moves along under the motivation that The Apprentice is working with Vader and eventually Vader will topple the emperor with Starkiller at his side.  The book really gets moving once all of that is thrown out of the window. Unfortunately you realize that you only have 100 pages or so to go at this point. You want so much more. Now that Starkiller is someone you feel for you understand that absolutely nothing good can happen the rest of the story.

My second big complaint is the stories biggest strength. That’s how tightly it ties into Episode IV. While it gives you some sort of emotional tether, the first half of the story that didn’t have any of that worked great anyway. When you bring in Mon Mothma, Bail and Leia Organa, and characters like that, even in cameo roles we as readers/viewers/players all know they don’t die here. They can’t die. The goal is to make us wonder how they get out of whatever predicaments they’re in. I also wonder how other characters are moved out of play from the end of this story to the beginning of Episode IV.

Essentially though none of that is really important. The important thing is that we got a cool look at a part of the timeline that wasn’t filled in before, and it was done well. Minor complaints aside the book is a decent read. I’m thinking about telling my little brother to check it out just to get a different point of view on it from  someone much younger and someone who hasn’t played the game.

 

An open letter to game publishers

Quit your bitching.

That is all.

Okay, that’s not all at all.

I find it amazing how often you see video game publishers bitching and moaning about used game sales. They make it out to be the worst thing in the history of human kind. In fact, it’s just a way that common people save money.

The gaming industry is experiencing something that they’ve not had to deal with yet because they’re so young. Just as few as ten years ago the market was completely different. Gamestop and EB were different companies. Babbages, funco land, and software etc. were all different companies. They all actually existed, so used games were around. The difference is, the market was much smaller. The sales of games were all hardcore. The notion of the casual market didn’t make sense to most people. Yes, we knew about the  people that bought a ps2 and only played madden and GTA, but we didn’t talk to them. We didn’t see them. We saw the people that bought a new $50 game every month. That was all of us.
Who cared about the fringe people that couldn’t afford that? They weren’t gamers, they were just there.  Then over time they became a huge segment of the market. The truth of the matter is that there are a lot more people that can’t afford to keep up with the rat race than can. I use to be able to and now I just absolutely can’t. So I pulled back. I refuse to buy games at $50 and $60. That’s just not for me. I still like games. I want to play them, I just can’t afford them out of the gate. So I wait. After all t he waiting is done I find the game at a cheaper price. For instance I found Super Street Fighter IV for $25 when the game was still at $40. That’s in my price range and I get a lot out of that game. I saved $80 on six games during a b2g1 free sale at Gamestop.

What the publishers hate is that they’re not seeing a dime of that money. Not one dime. That is entirely their fault. All I want to do is be able to enjoy my entertainment. I do the same with movies and music. Whatever the cheapest way for  me to get it, that’s the way I go. It’s all about the financial bottom  line. I only have so much to spend on entertainment and I’ll maximize that money. Why spend $60 on one when I can spend $60 on three or four?

On a similar end of the argument, I recently spent over $100 on PC games during Steam’s summer sale. Games were anywhere from 50%-90% off. Companies like Codemasters, Lucas Arts, Sidhe, Atari, PoGo, Infinite Interactive, Bioware, and so many more received money from me, no matter how  little, that they would NEVER have gotten. Why? Because the games were affordable. There was a value to me.

That’s the crux of the issue. Used games exist only because there is a demand for them. There is a great incentive to consumers to get things cheaper. It provides them money to buy other stuff. Or maybe they only have so much money and it provides them a chance to buy something they wouldn’t ordinarily get. Give the consumer the chance to give you money for their product and they’ll do it. Give them the chance to give someone else less money for your product and they’ll definitely do that. That’s just the way of the world. You want to maximize product. Consumers are holding to the same code. Don’t be mad at them.

 

Funny Thing About Civil Rights July 17, 2010

Filed under: Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 21:48

The funny thing about civil rights is how  little they change things in a country. People get the notion that because a few laws change thing all of a sudden playing fields are leveled and mindsets change. The only thing that changes is the perceptions people have. For instance, some people actually think that the effects of the civil rights movement in the U.S. and of the anti-apartheid movements in South Africa have have put the disenfranchised people of both countries on equal footing with those who had the power under the previous laws.

Are people in power ever really jumping at  the opportunity to just wildly give that away? The answer is no. People act like civil war was about slavery from the standpoint of moral obligation and anyone who looks at how the country was run at the time or quotes from anyone with any sort of power at the time know how much of a lie that is to make people feel better. Abolition of slavery just kept the south in line by destroying their work force.

What happened when slavery was officially over? A bunch of people who were working for free before had to find ways to sustain themselves, and who wanted to help them out? Not nobody. The north in this country is all high and mighty over that slavery game, but just the smallest bit of research shows that people up  north wanted nothing to do with black  people either. They had laws preventing the free  blacks from moving into cities or states.

This happened all the way up until  . . . .not too long ago. Afirmative Action exists for a reason. You may not like it, and it is by no means, a perfect system, but it is 100% needed. You watch what happens with people aren’t forced to select from smaller less fortunate groups of society. Know why the issue of crime popped up with black people in early America? Cause no one would allow for them to work. Niggas gotta eat, so they found a way to eat. Wasn’t like they weren’t being sent to jail on some old bull anyway.

Skipping a bunch of years up to the American Civil Rights movement, those had to happen for a reason, because not having rights is not cool. So only after a lot of hubbub laws were changed. (Note how it took a lot of comotion to get those laws changed. Wasn’t like people were just thrilled about the idea of lettin black dudes vote). Then the laws had to be changed again because people were going out of their way to make it hard on black people to survive.

So now we have all these laws that have changed all of a sudden. People that insist on things being peachy keen now are going off the notion that racism in all forms stopped immediately after civil rights laws were passed, like all of the people who hated niggers in 1964 all of a sudden were cool with them living next door in 1965. People with money and power were like, yeah, instead of hiring the white people I live near and know I’ll start hiring niggers to give them a hand up. Now that they’re allowed to play this sport or move into this house I’ll gladly let them live  in our neighborhoods with very little hassle and no made up homeowners associations popping up with strange guidelines on how people in the neighborhood had to purport themselves.

It’s pretty apparent that on the whole people don’t want things to change, they just don’t want to think a bout it. Looking at issues that come out around civil rights movements isn’t fun. There’s a lot of chicanary that goes completely unreported. A lot more that’s just underreported for any number of reasons. Most of which have to do with the distribution of money and power. Have black people in the states come pretty far from when white people started snatching us up and bringing us over? Yeah, but it’s not nearly as far as most people will claim.

That leads us back to South Africa. Remember I had brought them up a little earlier? So Apartheid was this awful deal, people willingly recognize how bad an idea it is. What they don’t recognize is that really not much if  anything has changed since Apartheid ended. What we  have there is a small group of white people with ALL the money down there. Not most of it; ALL of it. So then the laws change and black people in South Africa have freedoms they didn’t previously possess. What didn’t change was the money and the access to it. The education didn’t magically get  better, the jobs didn’t magically get better. Nothing magically got better. The people there are digging and scratching to make their way over there, with no real help from the white establishment. Then all of a sudden when South Africa has a chanced to be blessed with international attention and international money from the World Cup come all these stories about how far the country has come in fifteen years. Very similar to all the stories written here after Obama got elected president. (like that actually means anything. Also, look at articles written about him now. Note how the tone has changed so drastically). People are so willing to accept that changes have been made based on some choicely selected photos and prettily hacked up press releases.

Then the media all goes over there (a country most of them have never been to and don’t know the first thing about on a continent most of them have never been to and know nothing about) and are amazed that the black people there are all those starving savages all of us civilized people need to help like we see on TV. Clearly all the social good work that needed to be done there was done. We can all come back home and feel good about the world. This is what we do. We look for the faintest signs that things are perfect, and then we leave it alone because digging any deeper would force us to reflect on things we really don’t want to deal with.

This was really all brought up because I was looking at the golf scores and an article on Yahoo pointed out how the South African golfers had done historically at the British Open tournament. If you don’t know, I am not a golf guy. I find the sport to be terribly elitists in the bad way, and the institution of it is shady at best. Talk about your good old boy clubs. I follow it only in the hopes that Tiger is beating all the white people at their sport. Yes, that is the ONLY interest I have in golf. Watching this jungle man come in and beat the snot out of egalitarian trust fund babies.

Anyway, I was looking at all these South Africans and they had one thing in common. They were all white. The country only has 10% white people yet EVERY golfer of consequence from there is white. Why is that? Only one segment of that country has the money to play it. This isn’t something you’ll ever see golf writers write about though, because the story isn’t interesting to them. Just the hollowed ground of these courses and the amazing history of the white people who walk up and down these historic, vaguely religious, grass fields.

Just something to think about. Next time you feel like we’ve come so far and things are good just think a little harder.

 

Why racism will never die Part 428. July 12, 2010

Filed under: Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 20:25

Same as parts 1-427. Cause people are afraid to talk about it,  plain and simple. Every time the subject comes up people run for  the hills, and their fear turns to anger. Weird issues of jealousy, guilt, insecurity, and outright fear come up. As people, we don’t like discussing those things, so we don’t do it. What happens is, everytime someone wants to have a legetimate discussion about you people turn straight into punks and hide out. They just make up any old excuse as to why this ain’t about race, or how someone is playing the race card, or someone is living in the past and we don’t do that stuff anymore or how because people aren’t out with pitchforks and burning crosses (which they still are by the way, you just don’t see that on the news) anymore that no one is racists. How if anyone is racists they’re only a certain type of person that lives in a certain area of the country. We won’t talk about how just because laws changed, that hearts, minds, and money have not. We won’t look at how people react to each other, why things are the way they are. We look back and say “well things are better so we don’t have to work at this anymore” and before we all know it race relations are bad and only about to get worse here. But no one ever wants to talk about it. They just want to hide away from it.

We’re not a nation of free thinkers anymore. We just take in what people tell us cause we’re too caught up in keeping things easy and smooth. We have just lazied ourselves into becoming a nation of bitches. The kind of people that don’t know how to discuss sensitive issues without resorting to screaming matches and hurling insults.  It’s really frustrating, and it’s going to bite us all  in the butt sooner or later.