Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shaking up WoW

A couple of WoW's Wrath quests have got people in a bit of a tiz lately, such as one which asks you to torture an NPC to extract information from them. Somehow some people find this quest morally repugnant.

Never mind that to get this far their toon has probably already committed numerous acts that are equally disturbing, and which together far outweigh one simple act of torture.

At least on the Alliance side, most players will:

Kill numerous sentient humanoids to collect their eyes to make a stew.

Kill numerous sentient humanoids for kelp, just so two youngsters can defy their parents and hang out together.

Slaughter wildlife by the thousands, in some cases for nothing but their paws, legs, or liver. "Go! Kill some pigs, and bring back their livers so I can make a few pies."

In some cases wildlife are slaughtered, literally by the hundreds, for no reason at all, other than to impress a couple of people. Yes, Nesingwary, I'm looking at you!

Almost all Alliance will be offered a quest to kill a man who helped rebuild Stormwind and who was then cheated and wronged by the Stormwind Nobles. Most Alliance will accept a contract to kill this honorable man, who refused the Nobles' bribes and who turned down a cushy government job because he was loyal to his men, men who were not brigands but common laborers and stonemasons. Most Alliance will take this quest and do everything they can to kill this man, one Edwin VanCleef, and they won't think twice about what they're doing.

How is it acceptable to kill a man whose crime was to speak out against injustice, but torturing someone for information is really, really not okay?

Seriously, it's not like the choices you make affect anything.

Kill a named Quest Mob, in 5 minutes he'll pop right back up. Mine that Node, half an hour later, another Node will spring up in its place.

In most cases, WoW is a very static world.

The in-game choices you make don't make a shred of difference, or at least any effects from the choice you make disappears after 5-10 minutes.

The only choices that really affect anything are the very first two you make: Do you choose Alliance or Horde, and what class? Pretty much any other choice you make is irrelevant.

In Shattrath you'll be able to choose between Scryer and Aldor, but if you make the wrong choice (for your craft) then it just takes a little bit of work to undo that choice. It's not a huge, game breaking decision. It might take an investment of time & gold on your behalf to undo your choice, but it can be reversed.

But, what if there was a choice to be made in-game which couldn't be reversed.

Take the Torture quest that's getting everyone up in arms. What if you strolled up to a camp with two Quest Givers and when you talk to the first one he says, "Psst. We've got a guy tied up in bushes. Go back there, smack him around a bit, and see if you can't get some information out of him."

I'm sorry, you want me to do what? Beat up a helpless guy? I don't think so.

So you click Decline then talk to the second Quest Giver. He says, "Psst. They've got a guy tied up in the bushes back there. Go get some food & wine from the Innkeeper, untie the guy and lead him up into the hills, then give him the food & wine and see if he'll open up to you."

Interesting. You've got two quests which seem to have the same goal in mind; Interrogate a prisoner for information. But in the first quest you'll use violence to extract the information, whereas the second quest has you be a little more subtle.

If you'd accepted the first guy's quest, the quest marker would have disappeared from second guy, and instead of offering you the subterfuge quest he now might say, "A man who thinks he's about to die will say anything to save his life. How can you trust information gained through torture?"

A smart cookie might make the connection between the two quest givers, then abandon the Torture quest to see what the second Quest Giver had to say.

And now you're presented with a moral choice, a very real choice. You no longer have a choice between doing or not doing a quest; now you have a choice between torturing someone for information, or befriending them to gain the same.

Imagine if this was how you chose between Aldor and Scryer, with your choice affecting who will talk to you in the future, what quests you can get, and even what City you will eventually call home at 80. Imagine if making a choice one way or the other gives you some sort of communication device which allows you to communicate in a channel specifically reserved for just the Torturers, or just the Spies...regardless of faction. Yes, suddenly Alliance and Horde could communicate with each other, but only those who'd chosen to torture the prisoner could communicate with each other, while only those who'd chosen to free and befriend the prisoner could communicate with each other.

Imagine Horde and Alliance being able to group up, together, to do lvl 80 Instances? And why not? With BC's introduction of Dranei Shamans and Bloodelf Paladins, the factions are practically the same now anyway.

Imagine if there were decisions to make in the World of Warcraft that really mattered, decisions with irreversible consequences.

If you think people are upset over the Torture quest now, just imagine the screaming, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth if players/toons were held accountable for their in-game decisions ;)

Monday, November 24, 2008

QWOP

QWOP: First you move one foot forward then place it firmly on the ground, then you bring your other foot up past the first and place it firmly on the ground. Then you bring your first foot forward again, past the second foot, and place it firmly on the ground once more, or at least that's what you do in theory.

In practice, you kick your leading foot out ahead of you and almost do a backflip, or you shove yourself backwards with your leading foot, catch yourself with your second foot but only succeed in pushing yourself backwards further still, before crashing down on your head. Or you do a very painful looking Split then bounce along on your knee until your unborn children scream out in pain.

By the way, you have Tesh to thank for this complete bastard of a game. Uncoordinated people with no sense of rhythm need not apply. Upon the rest of you brave (foolhardy? Could never tell the difference...) souls I inflict upon you QWOP!!!

Run, you fool! Run! It's just Q&P, then W&O, then Q&P again...or...is it?

No, it's not that simple. It's QWOP!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

LA Auto Show

Despite it being a Sunday (not a work day) this morning I still found myself in downtown L.A., although my destination was a few blocks over from my office.

First on the agenda was a pancake breakfast at IHOP at 8th & Flower, where it was just a short walk to the LA Convention Center to attend the Auto Show. And let me tell you, there was nowhere near the sexy girls I thought was almost compulsory at these things. Instead there were loads & loads of cars from your run of the mill Americans & Japanese autos, to the exotic Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Lotus. Even Aston Martin and Rolls Royce were in attendance.

Many of the cars were off limits, look but don't touch, and the attendants were quick to tell people "Hands off!" when they got a little too close, which included my son at one point :P

But many, many cars had people (almost) climbing all over them, and JE got to sit in the driver's seat more than a few times.

Surprise of the day was him being able to adjust the seat of a Passat (I think it was a Passat) so much that he could literally have driven it...and he's only EIGHT! The seat went so far forward, and raised up so much, that even at just 52" tall he was not only able to reach the pedals but see over the dash.

Downer of the day was getting to sit in the driver's seat of an Audi TT (my midlife crisis car) and realizing I don't like it! :(

Pleasant surprise was the Honda Fit. A very nice car for this (almost) 6' tall guy. The seat goes back further than I need (and I have long legs, so I need to sit back) and still allowed a quite reasonable amount of room for an adult (me again) in the backseat behind the driver.

Funny was seeing a 6'6" guy slide into the passenger seat of a Mini Cooper, and after putting the seat back he was actually quite comfortable. There was no room (literally) for anyone in the back seat behind him, but he had enough room so that's all that mattered.

Highlight of the day for both J.E. and I was the Test Drive area where I took a Camry SE (not the V6) and a Toyota Tundra for a spin around the test track. J.E. got to ride along with me in the back. Liz rode shotgun for the first lap then bailed before she hurled because I was driving!

J.E. thought the Camry was pretty cool, especially when I floored it on the straight then jammed on the brakes for the first curve...but then we went out in the V8 Tundra ;) Can you say VAH-ROOOOOM!!! I think you can ;) Now that was cool. The Tundra handled surprisingly well for a truck, although taking it through the S's from (almost) lock to opposite lock was tough; you need to do a lot of turning of the wheel if you don't want to take out half a dozen traffic cones, and I didn't...take them out, that is.

While the big barrel of the Tundra appeals to the Guy in me, the practical guy in me says, get the Honda Fit...then again, Liz's Highlander will eventually become J.E.'s First Car, while my next car will become the Bunny's First Car, and I think it would be awesome (& safe, for her ;) if her first car was actually a thumping great truck ;)

It's probably going to be a Honda Fit though :P

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No Title

Can't think of a title for this one.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I woke up and looked around it took me a few seconds to orient myself, then I realized I was in the spare bedroom. I chuckled to myself. "Guess I came in for a nap and the wife just let me sleep through." I got up and peeked in our bedroom door; she was still fast asleep in our bed so I thought I'd surprise her with breakfast.

Maybe it was the coffee brewing, perhaps the toast, or the frying bacon, but shortly after I'd started breakfast I heard her stirring, and a few minutes later she came downstairs then peered around the corner.

"Good morning, beautiful," I said. "Looks like my nap in the spare bedroom went a little longer than planned." I smiled at her, and she smiled back but behind the eyes I saw...something else. Sadness?

"Something wrong?" I asked her.

"No," she said, "well, maybe. Yes, yes there is."

I poured a cup of coffee and handed it to her. She took a sip as I prompted her. "Well, come on. Out with it."

She sighed, then muttered almost under her breath, "this just gets harder and harder."

"Sorry?" I said, "What do you mean?"

"Oh honey," she said, bursting into tears. "You've got Alzheimer's. You've had it for years."

"I do?" I said. "Alzheimer's? You'd think I'd remember something like that."

She laughed, but it wasn't a happy laugh. "You always say that," she said.

I smiled at her. "So you're saying I forgot I have Alzheimer's?"

She nodded her head. "What's today's date?" she asked me.

"Ahh, a test," I replied. "Let's see now. Christmas was a couple of weeks ago so...I'm guessing...January 7th." I winked at her. "1995."

"It's August 12th," she said sadly. "August 12th, 2007."

I looked at her. She was serious. She pointed to the calendar hanging on the wall. It was on August, and the first 11 days had been crossed out. It was a calendar...for 2007. I was glad I'd been leaning nonchalantly against the counter because I needed it now to stop me from collapsing to the floor. I really did have Alzheimer's.

"How...how long..." I couldn't finish the question.

She answered anyway. "Twelve and a half years, since 1997. January 1st, 1997. We'd seen the signs the previous year. We knew it was coming, then you woke up on New Year's Day and...that was it."

"How bad is it?" I asked her.

She shook her head.

"That bad?"

"You don't remember anything."

"But...look at me! I...I remember it now. I'm good. Am I...cured?"

"No," she said, "you have days like this, every now and then...every year or two. One day, every couple of years, you're okay. And...I know you're okay on that day because...you make me breakfast." Tears were running down her cheeks now.

"The other days?" I asked her. "What am I like...on the other days?"

"You don't know me," she said. "You get up and fix yourself a bowl of cereal, and you're surprised when I come downstairs. That's why...you sleep in the spare bedroom. You don't know me. You don't remember me. You don't even know we're married."

"So the other days, it's like we're dating, right?" I grasped for something to hold on to. Something to let me know that when I wasn't here, that I was at least sort of still there for her.

She shook her head, she couldn't give me that. "I fix you lunch and I make you dinner, and you thank me, then ignore me. And in the evening I go to our bedroom, and you go to your room. And that's our day. Except for those few good days, that's been our life for the past twelve years. I take care of you every day, hoping you'll get better, waiting for days like today, because they make it all worthwhile."

I took her in my arms and we held each other for the longest time. Our coffee grew cold, but we couldn't let each other go. It didn't feel like it to me, but for her, we'd been apart for so long that today, she needed to be close to me.

It was like we were dating all over again. We went out for lunch, enjoying an unusually mild summer day. Not too hot. Just nice. We watched a movie. We went for a walk in the park. We had dinner at the restaurant where I'd proposed to her all those years ago. Hard to believe it was still open.

"So...tomorrow?" I said to her, as we walked in our front door.

"You won't remember any of this," she said. "You'll forget it all, and I'll go back to taking care of a husband who doesn't even know me. Maybe you'll be back in a year or two...but it's been getting longer," she said. "March 30 was the last day we spent together. March 30th, 2005. Almost two and a half years ago."

I stared at the woman who'd promised to love and cherish me, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. And she was sticking to that promise, even though I was no longer the man she'd married...except for one day every few years. Like today.

Until death do us part.

She was still a beautiful woman. She still had so much to live for. She didn't deserve to spend the rest of her days like this. She needed to live. Not waste away taking care of a man who barely acknowledged her existence.

Until death do us part.

"I'm going to shower before bed," I said to her. "Do I...still do that?"

"Only if I remind you," she told me.

Wow. When I wasn't me, I was a pig. An ungrateful, inconsiderate pig. I took everything from her and gave nothing back. Nothing but one day every year or so...and she'd said those days were getting further and further apart.

"You don't need to remind me tonight," I told her, smiling. Then I kissed her. "I love you," I told her. "I've always loved you, even if I don't remember. Thank you, for everything."

Upstairs, as I got ready for my shower, I slipped the phone into the pocket of my robe. In the bathroom I found the hair scissors. Still razor sharp, as if they were brand new. Which they practically were, or at least never used. I remember I'd got the set for Christmas, 1996. My last Christmas, or at least the last one I could remember.

Did we...celebrate Christmas? It didn't sound like we did. No Christmas. No birthday. No anniversary. I just lived here while my devoted wife spent her life looking after me.

The water was hot now, and steaming up the bathroom mirror. On a whim I grabbed the bar of soap and wrote on the mirror "I love you".

Then I took the phone out of my pocket and dialed 9-1-1.

I was on hold for a minute or so, and my heart began beating faster as I contemplated the next few minutes.

"Nine-one-one. Please state the nature of the emergency."

I gently tapped the receiver on the counter, three times. I knew the internal microphone would pick up the taps and relay them loud & clear to the operator.

"Please confirm. If you need emergency assistance, please...knock three times again."

I leaned close to the phone and whispered "help..." Then I gently knocked three times again before dropping the phone the one inch to the counter top. It gave a quiet rattle that I knew the operator would have heard in her headset.

I heard her saying, "Sir, please hold on. Help is on the way!"

Then I took the scissors and stepped into the shower.

The hot water was relaxing. It had been a beautiful day. It really seemed a shame to end it like this, but I felt like I owed it to my wife. She'd stood by me all these years, even though I no longer knew her. Many years ago she'd made a promise, and only one person could release her from that. Tomorrow, that person would no longer exist, but today...he was here today.

Before I could change my mind I drove the needle point of the scissors deep into my wrist, then sliced the razor-like blade up my arm. The pain was incredible, but...what pain had my wife been enduring all these years? This was nothing but a few minutes of discomfort. The blood poured from my arm as I flexed my fingers. I could still use that hand, for the moment, but I only needed a moment more.

The blood running down my ruined wrist mixed with the water and it was hard to hold the scissors in that hand. I was already feeling light headed. Both hands were tingling, not just the hand on the end of the ruined arm. I couldn't feel the scissors, but I could see them in that hand, the blade protruding from my fist. I slammed my other arm down onto the wicked blade then dragged it up my forearm as best as I could.

Then I sat down. In a pool of swirling crimson water. So much red. Gushing from each arm.

I could hear sirens. Getting louder. 9-1-1 had responded pretty quickly. Hopefully not quickly enough.

I tried to flex my hands, to keep the blood flowing.

Did they move? I stared at them. Were...these my hands?

They seemed so far away.

My wrists had stopped hurting now but the edges of my vision had gone black.

My hands...I squinted. I could hardly see them. So blurry.

I forced myself to focus. Pointless. Vision. Fading.

Everything went dark.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Word says this is about 1,600 words. Funny. In my senior year of High School we had a year long essay project. We had to write several 500-word essays, and one 1,500+ word essay. It seemed so hard back then, and now, just like that, I've cranked one out without batting an eye lid.

Fallout 3

I'm really enjoying this game, in fact I haven't played Wizard 101 since I got it...of course that wasn't that long ago :P

I've restarted my game a couple of times, the first time after I discovered V.A.T.S. and realized it could save me ammunition versus shooting in FPS mode and missing. Then I reloaded again when I wanted to kill a certain quest giver. He's a bad guy (well, that's relative, really ;) who disappears after you help him, or defy him, but you can also kill him if you squeal on him, but if you do turn him in you need a quick trigger finger or good people will die. Thank heavens for Quick-saves and reloads because I wasn't fast enough the first time...or the next few times, either :P

That's the big difference between an MMO-RPG and an offline SP-RPG (or story-driven SP-FPS, what ever you want to call it). In an MMO any choices you make are, for the most part, permanent for your character...unless you want to reroll. My Main in WoW got screwed out of a lot of things, which was shame, because I loved playing him so he was often the first Toon to do things. And because of that he was also the Guinea Pig, meaning he was the guy from which I learned what not to do.

The Timbermaw Furbolg in the tunnel between Felwood and Winterspring? Grind Rep with them to at least Unfriendly before setting foot inside. It doesn't take long, maybe half an hour doing two grinding quests and you're there. Do NOT fight your way through because it just makes it so much harder later when you've either got to fight your way back, or spend money to fly back, and forth, and back, and forth. Yeah, I fought my way through...a couple of times. Took me freaking forever to get back in the Timbermaw's good books.

Now if WoW were offline SP-RGP you'd just reload. You might lose an hour of progress but it's soooo much better than the alternative.

Of course if it were an offline SP-RPG you'd probably never have the thousands of hours invested into your Toon that most of us ended up with. By the way, a thousand hours isn't long, it's just 40 days /played.

So I restarted/rerolled my FO3 "Toon" a couple of times and after the second or third time, I saved my Toon at the exit to Vault 101 which, oddly enough, is where you get a final chance to change everything about your character. You've already assigned points to your Stats, and chosen your Skills/Perks, you've done the Intro/Tutorial but now, before you set foot into the Big, Bad Wasteworld...do you want to change anything about your Toon...and they do mean anything. You get one last chance to change not just your Stats but your physical appearance, including your gender! So I saved a game there meaning now when I "reroll" I don't need to do the Tutorial again, not unless I really, really want to.

The controls are standard WASD FPS controls so if you've played any FPS in the last 10 years you should have very little trouble getting around. Hitting TAB opens your PIPBoy which also Pauses the game. That's something which makes Liz very happy and she's probably not the only spouse...not that I have more than one spouse...other people's spouses, they're probably happy their SO is finally playing a game with a Pause button.

The PIPBoy is where you change weapons, armor, medicate/heal yourself, etc. You can keep track of your current quests in it, track the objective/destination for a quest, view your Map, etc. Because it completely fills your screen it's by necessity that the game also Pauses when you access your PIPBoy, otherwise Mobs would be chewing on your head while you're looking at your Map.

Back in the game combat occurs, for the most part, in Real Time, although Bullet Time is used for some of the flashier kills. You can choose to play FO3 as an FPS, or you can take advantage of V.A.T.S., the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. This means Combat gets paused while you choose your targets. You start combat with a certain number of Action Points (depending on a few factors, your Stats, length of time since last Combat, etc) and you basically choose which opponent (if more than one) to shoot at, and which body part to target. Certain Mobs are more heavily armored in certain areas, so while you might have an excellent chance of shooting a RadScorption's Carapace, you won't do as much damage to it as if you targeted its legs, which are naturally harder to hit.

V.A.T.S. has its good points, and its bad points. It allows you to stop/pause combat while you think things through, which is good you're a more mature gamer (like me) where your reactions might be a little slower than when you were half your age (even if you won't admit it to yourself, or anyone else ;) It's also very good if a Mob ambushes you. Spin to face it, hit V (to engage V.A.T.S. of course), pick your target, maybe select it a couple of times if you have sufficient Action Points, then hit A (or is it E) to Accept your choice, leave V.A.T.S. and resume combat. Now you don't need to do anything until your Toon has completed doing what you told it to...which is where the bad part of V.A.T.S. kicks in.

You just told your Toon to shoot the Mob four times in the head. As he begins firing the camera view changes, and here are two Mobs behind your target, with Assault Rifles, that they've got aimed right at you. Your first shot to your target's head is a good one, it does a lot of damage and he's stunned, so your second shot finishes him off. Queue the almost obligatory slow-mo death sequence as your target's head flies off (yes, body parts are easily separated from their owners during combat) and his body cartwheels through the air and down the adjacent stairwell.

Meanwhile...his two buddies are shooting the hell out of you and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, not until the game gives you back control of your Toon. Before that happens, let's just watch that body slide down the last couple of stairs, shall we? Ok, now, where were we? Oh, you're getting shot. And you're low on health. Oh dear.

Good part of FO3? Hit TAB to bring up your PIPBoy and shoot yourself up with a couple of Stimpacks. Get that Health Bar back up to a more...healthier level. Much better. Your 10mm Pistol is good for taking out a single bad guy, but you've got two guys shooting at you now. Break out the Combat Shotgun. TAB out of your PIPBoy and resume combat, in real time. You're almost back at full health again so you can take a second to line up your shot and KA-BLAM! The second bad guy loses his head after taking a load of double-ought to the face. Unlike the first guy's death which occurred in V.A.T.S., this second guy doesn't get the honor of a slow-mo bullet time death. Now it's just one guy left so...you hit V again. Hellooooo V.A.T.S. and refreshingly slow combat where you have all the time in the world to plan your moves. Close range, guy in front of you in an open corridor. Got to be a shotgun blast to the face...again >:)

It's a Critical Hit, and because it happened in V.A.T.S., there's that slow-mo death sequence that sometimes produces the most hilarious of death scenes. Seriously. Sometimes they're so over the top they're beyond belief. Last night I shot a Raider on a bridge above me. The best shot I had, according to the percentages shown by V.A.T.S., was targeting his left leg, so I did. All three rounds from my Hunting Rifle hit the Raider in the leg, the last one tore his leg off. No, he didn't hop around on his good leg before collapsing in a heap. The game engine decided to toss him into the air, and he practically cartwheeled across a gap in the bridge which, if the guy was 6-feet tall, was a 10' wide gap. He almost made it all the way across, too :D

Speaking of the physics engine FO3's has really impressed me, on more than one occasion.

I had a stupid Raider charge me. I know he was stupid because he was bringing a Pool Cue to a Gun Fight. I dropped him with a couple of rounds from my Hunting Rifle, and he dropped the Pool Cue. We were on the side of a hill and his Pool Cue hit the ground and began rolling down hill. It rolled all the way down to the bottom of the hill then continued on for a bit before finally losing all momentum.

Another Raider lost his head after losing a gun fight with me (it's amazing how poorly heads and limbs are attached in this game) and I watched bemused as his head rolled away from its body before coming to a stop in a ditch.

Then there was a Centaur (not your typical mythical half-man/half-horse critter, something a lot uglier) spitting at me, or tossing body parts, or doing god knows what, but it was engaging me at extreme range by spitting/throwing "something" at me. I pulled out my Sniper Rifle and fired off the last few .308 rounds I had. I hit it a couple of times but not enough to kill it, so I switched to my Hunting Rifle (chambered for .32, not .308) and...the Centaur disintegrated. WTF? I stared in surprise, wondering just what the hell had happened, and that's when the truck behind the Centaur exploded. I ducked, literally (me, not my toon) as the hood of the truck flew across the river and bounced past my toon. I still don't know what happened to the Centaur, whether there'd been an initial, smaller explosion from the truck that I hadn't seen, which finished it off, or if it somehow self-destructed, setting fire to the truck, which caused the explosion. It doesn't matter, the Centaur was dead and I was alive.

Now, is the game worth $50? Which is what I paid for it (that's what you get buying newly released games). I'd say so. Sure, it may not keep my interest as much as WoW or Wrath would, but for them, I'd still be paying to play every month (or every 6 months in my case). Even when I'm done with it, there'll probably be a time in the future when I'll pull it back out and play it some more. Good value for money, in my books.

There's also a large Modding community, who are constantly coming up with changes to the game. Different graphics, different specs for the weapons, etc. So there's a lot of after-market support. If you've an aversion to paying full price for games, then wait for the price to drop. It will come down sooner or later. If you don't mind paying $50 for a game, and you like quasi-Role Playing games with guns, bombs, explosions, and detachable body parts, you'll probably enjoy Fallout 3.

It's very easy to get into, can be played for 5 to 10 minutes, or an hour or two, and paused at will when the wife calls. It may not be Fallout 1 & 2 done as an FPS, but it's still (IMO) a fun game. No, I'm not offering you a money back guarantee if you don't like it. By now you should already know if you'd like it ;)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A hypothetical

John Doe, a U.S. Presidential candidate, collects 62,000,000 "popular" votes, three million more than his opponent. He also wins 30 states, 50 per cent more than his opponent.

With an Electoral College tally of 278, the winning candidate is...John Doe's opponent???

That is what almost happened in 2004.

John Kerry received three million fewer popular votes than GW, he also won just 19 states. It doesn't matter which way you look at it Kerry was clearly not the popular candidate, and yet if he'd won Florida...

You give credit where it's due and this is why I respect the Democrats, because they clearly know how to play the game. (That doesn't mean I support them, just respect them, big difference.)

The 2008 Election was practically a reverse of '04. The Democrats won the same number of states as GW in '04, but their Electoral College tally was almost 80 points higher. A clear and decisive win by a party that knows how to play the game.

If the Democrats can get their shit together, the Republican party will never be in power again. That's not a good thing. As it stands now it's either Republican or Democrat, there's no real choice. If you remove the Republicans it becomes all Democrat, all the time. That's not a good thing.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations? I'm confused.

Tobold, I'm not sure what you're congratulating us for. All we did was elect a politician to the office of President of the United States. We do that every four years, you know. (And yes, I know; technically our Electoral College system means that We, The People, don't really elect our President.)

So what if he's Black? Why is that such a big deal? It might look like we overcame our prejudice and elected a Black President, but Californians still voted to discriminate against homosexuals and deny them the same rights the State bestows upon heterosexuals. We're not exactly the forward thinking nation you perceive us to be.

Record turn out? Hardly. Obama got (approx.) 63,350,000 votes, while McCain got 56,000,000. That's 119,350,000 votes.

In 2004, Bush & Kerry got 121,000,000 votes between them. They beat the Obama/McCain team by 1,650,000 votes.

Also Obama got just 1.3 million more votes than Bush did in 2004. That's hardly an example of overwhelming support or inspiring a nation.

Considering the approx. adult population of the U.S. is 220 million, slightly more than half of those eligible actually voted. (Yes, I know. Some of those adults are Felons, Residential Aliens, or Illegals, none of whom can vote.) But what does it really say about someone who realistically only garnered the support of a quarter of the population?

American's two-party system also practically handpicks the candidates the Public think they're voting on, so by "electing" a Black President it's not like we did anything amazing. We flipped a coin, and this time it came up heads. A black head, sure, but it's still just the head of a Politician. What's the big deal?

By the way, this is not Sour Grapes, I'm not a sore loser (didn't the pro-homosexual rights statement give that away?) because I'm not a Republican. I'm an Independent-Libertarian who is disillusioned with the U.S. political system, and I'm neither rich nor powerful enough to change it.

Change? Ha!

Obama is a Politician. You know he lied during his campaign because he has the exact same tell as every other Politician who's gone before him: Their lips moved.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

One-way escalator

TJ's recent blog entry reminded me of an incident that I witnessed not too long ago.

My local Bus Station has just one escalator from the lower level to the upper level (or perhaps it's the other way...), which changes directions from Up in the morning to Down in the afternoon. There's also a flight of stairs next to it (as well as an elevator), so people can still go down or up when the Escalator is going the "wrong" way.

One afternoon I was walking down the stairs while other commuters rode the escalator down (they don't walk here in L.A. but rudely stand two abreast so sometimes it's actually faster walking down the 20 or so steps), when a woman approached the bottom of the (currently) "Down" escalator.

She laughed in a bemused sort of way and said to the people coming down the "Down" escalator, "You're going the wrong way." Then I watched incredulously as she tried to push her way between the exiting riders. She wasn't joking, she honestly thought the people coming down the "Down" escalator were riding the wrong way.

She was trying to step onto the bottom of a Down escalator.

As I descended the last couple of steps the woman actually managed to take two steps onto the "Down" escalator before being pushed back the way she'd come. As she stumbled backwards her look of bemusement was replaced with one of complete and utter confusion, and it took her a couple of seconds to realize what she'd just done.

Her subsequent reaction was very typical of people who encounter unexpected change in their life: anger and indignation.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Communist China?

This is what happens when you let your government oppress you.

First your government takes away your guns.

Then they want to restrict your access to information.

Then they deny you a voice and try to silence their critics.

No, this is not China, folks; I'm sad to report that this is my former homeland. This is what's happening in Australia, right now.