The Public Shame Glory Train is boarding. Run, Freedom Faucet.

This. Here you are, turning on the Freedom Faucet and letting it run.  Please enjoy my thinly-veiled contempt for your kind.

Preamble: You people, you people make me sick.  Make me ashamed, make me sad and embarrassed to be an American.  Make me afraid to be a Black American.  I am so sorry we share a common national heritage and the same Constitution and that the Declaration of Independence is the same for the both of us.  You are a noxious cancer, a pox on all that is good about this country.
How dare you twist the facts to your own purposes?  How could you stand and with a straight face claim citizenship of this nation that was built on the backs of everyone but yourselves and expect to have what you want when you are coasting, as are we all, on the downward slide of our country into unreason and irrationality?  I don’t even have enough spit for all of your faces.

So, we have this video.  This black man walking through a crowd.  Somehow he becomes the target of chants and accusations and, don’t try to deny it, hatred by the protesters.  How did this happen?

I remember learning in school that this nation was founded (and yes, stolen) by people who wanted to worship as they pleased.  I used to think that this meant in America, your choices were respected.  I feel a little like a fool.  Who have I sat next to on a bus or spoken to politely in line at the store that has taken one look at my hair wrapped up and my unadorned face and thought to themselves “That brown girl’s prolly a Muslim”?  Have I walked through a door that was held by a Tea Bagger?  Did I ever smile at a baby whose parents were teaching it behind closed doors to hate in public?

What are our freedoms even worth if we’re too ignorant to exercise them properly?  I mean didn’t we all learn how to read a map in school?

What's that?  The King is an agent of T.E.R.R.O.R.?

Here’s a map from TopherChris, you stupid motherfuckers.  Read this Village Voice post too, so you can see what’s already near Ground Zero that’s somehow not more threatening than a community center aimed at fostering multicultural understanding and defusing the kind of horribly (un?)American antics depicted in this video.  I realize that this terror mosque will be right in the middle of Ground Zero, so I suppose I understand how it must feel to be standing at the site of the World Trade Center and not even be able to see the people you hate so much.  For those of you who are just looking at this for the pictures because you can barely read, “A” as in “All I want is for you to learn something today” is the proposed site of the place you’re terrified of and “B” as in “But I bet you’re still an idiot” is the site where you’re trivializing the deaths of thousands of people with the crosses you’re burning on the inside.
View Larger Map

Amagad look, over there there’s a woman dancing with no clothes on while men get hardons staring at her!  GASP!  And over there is a betting parlor!  And oh crap a bunch of kitschy junk!

In the interest of being fair, I thought I would try to balance myself out a bit here lest I be seen as some sort of liberal-thinking intellectualist who cares only about allowing terrorism and terrorists to grow and bloom in this, the “greatest nation on Earth”.  Remember this guy?

The noble Aryan profile of a harmless white guy.

Wh-what’s that say?  The face of…terror?  Really?  Perhaps you were not aware of this but Timothy McVeigh, while not a mainstream Christian, was a member of the Christian Identity movement.  I won’t go into a long definition here but let’s see what we can find out about them.  From one of their own pages:

Kingdom Identity Ministries is a Politically Incorrect Christian Identity outreach ministry to God’s chosen race (true Israel, the White, European peoples). We proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom (government according to God’s Law) through books, tracts, tapes, videos, the American Institute of Theology Bible Correspondence Course, our international Herald of Truth Radio Broadcasts, a Prison Ministry, Biblical Counseling, Seminars, and other means. The Elect Remnant, Christian Patriots, Nationalists, Reconstructionists, Racialists, and all seeking a higher level of understanding will learn Biblical solutions to personal and national problems, and be given keys to unlock hidden truth.

I won’t link to their page but you can Google it if you want don’t already have it saved in your favorites.  Perhaps you might be saying “Well gawrsh, alphabete, those guys are extremists!” O rly?  Might they be?  Just like, I don’t know, the extremists who killed a grip of people on the eleventh of September in the Year of your Lord, Two Thousand-One?  I’m not done yet though, for ye who kneel and prostrate yourselves at the altar of hatred and stupidity.

You may recall Mr. McVeigh caused some property damage.  He blew up a building, specifically the Alfred P. Murrah on 19 April, 1995.  It remains the worst act of domestic terrorism that the United States of America has ever seen.  This is a man, a white man, in this country, a citizen who conspired with another white American citizen to cause damage to property and lives.  A guy who believed in God and, ostensibly, Caucasian Jesus.  But wait, there’s more.

Holy Crap look at all those Jesus sprinkles!

Look at all these Christian churches near the Murrah Building! Where are your protests?  Where’s the claim that by putting churches near the Murrah building is a slap in the face to the victims of McVeigh’s terror?  Where?  Oh, right, just look at these fucking comments.

Let’s see what those shifty Muslims are up to with this so-called “Community Center at Park51”.  According to their Mission Statement the founders of this project hope to

“Uphold respect for the diversity of expression and ideas between all people”

“Cultivate and embrace neighborly relations between all New Yorkers, fostering a spirit of civic participation and an awareness of common needs and opportunities”

“Establish a state-of-the-art green facility that will serve as a model and inspiration for sustainable space, helping to advance sustainable living in urban contexts”

…and a few other things.  A couple of them have to do with Muslims but if you want to tell me with a straight face that you’re not being willfully ignorant you can read them yourself and look for the “halla halla halla”.  So let’s see.  They want to uphold respect for diversity?  Those bastards!  Cultivate and embrace neighborly relations?  Foster the spirit of civic participation and an awareness of our commonalities?  What the fuck?  And don’t even get me started on that whole green facility/sustainable space/sustainable living thing.  For crying out loud it sounds like they’re trying to turn New York and indeed, all of America into some kind of place where the people you shit on prove that they’re not as bad as you think and that, in fact, they may be better than you.

I checked out some other pages.  Know what “their kind” will have in their fancy-pants new center of extremist terror-breeding?  Recreational facilities.  A swimming pool.  A reading library (oh Holy Father preserve us!), art studios (grab your Bibles lest ye be tempted to appreciate something), a restaurant and culinary school where no doubt all the food will be seasoned with a nice heaping tablespoon of jihad, and let us not forget the mother-fucking swimming pool.  Does that explain it?  Are you people afraid of getting in shape or are you scared that in your swimsuits we will see you exposed for the yellow-bellies you really are?  So hard to tell.

There will be a mosque, sure, oh, and also a memorial room for contemplation.  I see now, though, that contemplation in a 9/11 memorial room, or a basketball court, or an exhibition hall are so, so much worse than a gentlemen’s club which you would go into if it weren’t for your shame-laden penises shrinking at the thought that wimmins aren’t property and naked dancing doesn’t make them gutter trash.  And the fact that you’re not gentlemen.  I’d address the lady Tea Baggers here but I will assume their mouths are too full of their husbands’ balls to get back to me.

You are the festering, gangrenous wound in the side of this country.  You are the ones who are ignorant and irresponsible and hypocritical.  When will the physical attacks begin?  When will you mobilize to bring down De Gubmint in which it is encoded that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”?  When will you stand up like men and women and say “You see these freedoms?  They’re ours, not yours!”?  Come on now, when will you break down your barriers of respectability and appearance as normal American citizens and do as your hero McVeigh did, and use force to get what you want while you whine that people are trampling on your precious, pure-blooded Aryan America?  Or are you afraid to just put on your balaclavas and come out of the closet as the terrorists that you are?

You deserve your tickets on the Public Shame Glory Train and you make Mr. Conductor want to drive this shit off a cliff.

Risen! PC Game Review

I’d like to take a moment to tell you about Gothic. Crazy German RPG from a few years back, with an amazing take on action-adventure-rpgs. It wasn’t trying to be an RPG. It seriously had the bare minimum. You had hp, mp, strength, dex… 4 weapon skills, and a handfull of one-off abilities you could buy up like lockpicking, or harvesting trophies from critters. The weapons did get better, but the wielder is what was deadly.

The focus wasn’t so much on the RPG elements. It was on the world. You were set loose on a valley without any reason to care about anyone in it. Your quests often had multiple outcomes based on who you were willing (or eager) to screw over.

There was so much to do that you could play for days without even needing to mess with the main plot. Before you ever had to embark on saving anyone, you got to know the world.

The sequel, Gothic II, was a masterpiece. Sidequests were deep, varied, and kept cropping up throughout the game. Which makes sense, since you really can’t drive off robed mystery men from a man’s home until after they’ve invaded. It even had a good reason for playing the same character back at level 1 again… it took a few weeks to rescue you from the first game, and you were half-mad and half-starved from being trapped in rubble.

The 3rd game in the series… first change in the engine… and it sucked. The combat was tied to the animations, and they couldn’t change the animations by the time they figured out they’d built a set of rules where a wolf could juggle a seasoned fighter to death. Players feared barks, and would be relieved by a mere combat with dragons. They fight fair, flamethrower notwithstanding.

A few too many corners were cut. The game had clearly shipped on time, but at a brutal cost. Still, the quests kept their depth. And if you were willing to put up with a horrible combat system, the game did yield a truly impressive level of control over the fate of the world. Be a champion of light? Dark? Or go with the bright idea the necromancer has and kick all the gods out of the world, and forget this whole “every thousand years” war BS.

This brings me to Risen. Clearly by the same guys that brought us the first Gothic game. Since the combat isn’t broken by bad animation, it’s a much better game than their next most recent offering. But it does have a few problems. I can’t complain about the combat system, although it’s gotten a bit more depth. There are now 3 melee weapons skills to go with the 2 ranged ones, and raising skill gives you more maneuvers and lets you use a shield with even two-handed weapons.

The quest log has a button you can hit to see map locations for any given quest (if given). Always a nice touch.

The problem I had with the game wasn’t the combat, or the magic systems… or the (limited) crafting.

The problem I had was with the sidequests. But it’s a difficult thing to address. You have to understand that this is a game that gives you an open world at the outset. The only limitation to where you can go is what’s going to kill you. A bit of training and a lot of prudence (and cunning use of sheer cowardice) can allow you to go virtually anywhere from the beginning. So it’s quite simple to end up doing some parts of some quests quite out of order.

And that means that, while it doesn’t really break a plot to have you gather up vital macguffins ahead of time… the game does give you the quest update whether or not you’d started it. It’s not a terribly subtle way of saying “This seems important!” Also, it’s not possible to cover absolutely every permutation… so you get some very odd responses if you do things in a particular order.

One very beautiful quest line involves a pirate’s daughter. She’s looking for her father…’s treasure. So’s another pirate. At one point, you split up, and of course, she’s captured. You get to play Russian roulette with trapped chests (and a set of clues to tell which ones not to pick) and bring out the reward (including a main plot macguffin) to exchange for the girl’s location. All anybody really wants is the map to the other treasure hauls around the various islands. I don’t dig the ransom thing, so as soon as I had the key to the girl’s cell and her location… I slew five pirates and took the map back.

Problem was… when I rescued her, my side of the conversation said “I gave him the map.” She was a bit put out by this. Then I got the option to say “I got the map.” It was more than a little clunky, and it felt as though that method of resolving the quest should have been accounted for in the dialog.

Still, for the most part, as long as you aren’t expecting as much in the way of conversation options as previous games covered, it’s an awesome romp in a not-quite-standard RPG realm. There are some curious design choices… like, even if you are a mage, the endgame fight is basically Zelda. You use a shield to reflect glowies back at the boss, run up and hit him. Repeat. Try not to fall into the volcano. Your entire game’s combat practice is irrelevant, because someone wanted the end-game boss to be “different”, I guess.

A graphical glitch also marred my enjoyment. The sky would tend to flicker through day and night quite spastically. A quick internet search revealed a need to upgrade my graphics drivers. No problem. It worked nicely… for a while. A few days later, there are problems when moving into certain areas, causing the rapid flicker… and whatever time of day it stopped on when I left, all the NPCs would do whatever was appropriate then. If it stopped on night, they went to bed. If it stopped on day, they’d go to work. That’s… more than mere graphics at fault. Worse, the game eventually froze on midnight and refused to budge from there. I had to wake people up to complete quests… despite the risk of retaliation from trespassing.

Some who have played this game confessed disappointment to me… because the sheer volume of sidequests at the outset set an expectation… that there would be more as the main plot progressed. This was proven wrong, obviously. Only a few important threads tied into the main plot and were developed in the later chapters. I believe it has something to do with the design philosophy. The quests are things to do, and they’re scattered around the island. You are the only one determining how fast you plow through them. You alone determine if there are any left before you advance the main plot. It is like hunting down all the hidden packages in GTA before doing the second mission. Nobody forced you to do it in that order.

And that’s something most players don’t get out of an RPG… choice. It’s not even implemented particularly satisfyingly here, in all cases. It’s usually between two sides, and eventually just becomes a linear progression towards an inevitable destiny. Which… actually… is the theme.

Still, good to see these crazy guys are still working, still pounding out… well, it’s basically refurbished Gothic 1. But that was still better than 3, so… yay!

(Note, the above review contains spoilers. If you wanted to avoid them, you should have looked at the end of the review first, since that’s all you’d care about.)

I’m Wrong, and You Can Be Too!

Everyone is wrong. Wrong is the default state of the universe. It’s the default of any idea, it’s the starting place of every rationalization, and it’s every step along the journey towards either greater or lesser wrong.

I know, it seems an exaggeration. It’s not.

Do you remember physics and chemistry? My textbooks had a few pages about the various models for atomic structure that have been proposed throughout the ages. In order from quite wrong to less wrong. And the implication is that our current understanding is wrong too, and we haven’t figured out how yet.

Every science, every art, every discipline… perfection is not attained. We strive not to be perfect, but to be less wrong than we start. It’s a process, and every one of us demands improvement from ourselves in some aspects of our lives. Lest we succumb to depression.

You don’t think it applies to you? How about sex? You like sex? Gets better with practice, doesn’t it? Anyone who hasn’t repressed (or not experienced) their first sexual experience knows for damned certain that virgins are not good lovers.

Or maybe you’re a bit of a puritan? Finding sex offensive, you spend your evenings in Bible study… trying to improve or maintain your spiritual purity… or just to deepen and improve your understanding. Because you are imperfect, and therefore wrong in some way.

It’s easy to spot wrongness in others, isn’t it? Laws passed that clearly didn’t have the best of brains behind them, or have wording so poor that every armchair lawyer is thinking how bad the loopholes are. That grumpy sourpuss in line ahead of you that’s getting fed up with everything not being 100% perfect in their life and letting the whole world know… that they’re wrong in their expectations.

But the only way that we improve as human beings is to say that there’s something wrong about ourselves… and then fix it.

I am fed up with my life. It’s not living up to my expectations. The problem is, what I want is a way to get from here to… self-supporting, and having a family. I don’t have that. I lack the education, the job market sucks, and I have a shitty work ethic when it comes to begging for a job I really don’t want. I don’t even have half a clue what I want to do with my life from here.

I’m wrong!

Nothing in my life suggests I’m actually going to be any good with starting my own family. That’s an expectation that I had for life when I was 6. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I barely stay in touch with the loving family I have now. We’re generally aloof people and even wanting a family, I’d have to learn how to be a real part of one.

I’m wrong about hating just about every sort of retail job… that’s bullcrap. I liked work that involved a lot of moving around. Was great for my metabolism in high school. Once my weight shifts to where it’s less strain, I’ll like that again. It’s not even the physical pain of menial labor that bothers me. It’s putting up with corporate bullshit… but… most low-end jobs have pretty obvious common-sense rules. Sure, some of it’s BS layout from corporate, or obviously bad legal compromises… but there’s stories there, and you can respect them. At the end of the day, your job is to move things to where they must go so people can find them, and money can be made. I’d probably hate management there, but that’s not what I’d be applying for.

And, for what I want? I do know. I want to help people. I want to see justice. I want to get paid… and I’d like to be creative and occasionally even underhanded when someone deserves it.

I’m not quick. I keep a level head under pressure… I think I’m describing police work. Bit of a surprise, I was expecting counseling. Something to look into either way. I just have to keep in mind that, with any expectations… I’m wrong about reality.

But we all start being wrong. So it’s all right.