Sunday, August 20, 2017

Don't act fucking surprised that Donald Trump tried to blame "both sides".

Listening to people who have the audacity to sound shocked that Trump tried to place equal blame on the Nazis and counter-Nazi protestors in Virginia makes me want to pull out what little hair I have.

For years (and years, and years, and years) I've listened to people mindlessly bleat out "BOTH SIDES SUCK!!" arguments against Democrats and Republicans, and 99 times out of 100, those arguments are rooted in two things: intellectual laziness, and complete, unadulterated bullshit.

It's not hard to see why we're mired in this 'facts don't matter' hellhole. Americans have been inculcated with the idea that blaming both sides of an issue – regardless of what the issue is, regardless of what the two sides are saying, and regardless of whether or not either side has any grasp on any semblance of reality – makes them sound like an intelligent, rational, non-partisan, independent-minded centrist. "QUICK, EVERYONE PAT ME ON THE BACK FOR BEING THE REASONABLE ONE HERE!!!!"

Take this particularly egregious example:

He is not saying this because it's true. Which party wants to expand Medicaid, which explicitly helps the poor afford health care, and which wants to destroy it? Which party supports food stamps for struggling families, and which wants to slash them? Which party wants to make college tuition free for all students?  Which party wants to raise the minimum wage, and which wants to abolish it? Which side wants to keep the Earned Income Tax Credit for the poor and raise taxes on the rich, and which side wants to abolish those tax credits and cut taxes on the rich down to almost nothing? A huge chunk of the Democratic Party's economic platform is dedicated to helping those in need, while a huge chunk of the Republican platform is all about crushing the poor and shoveling more money to the super-rich.

Kasich is saying this because he knows that a majority of the audience watching and reading CNN is gullible enough to have the knee-jerk reaction that automatically equates blaming both sides with being a rational, thoughtful moderate who should be taken seriously.

The most common form this argument takes is that "both parties are too extreme!!" Really? REALLY? "Both parties are too extreme"? Fucking explain to me how the Democrats are "extreme" in ANY CAPACITY AT ALL. They're pushing for moderate tax increases on the super rich at a time when the super rich have iron-fisted control over the US economy and government; they pushed for a centrist, market-based solution to health care (which is what Obamacare always was, and anyone who called it "socialized medicine" is pushing deluded right-wing bullshit); the DNC even sided with Hillary over Bernie because they were afraid that Bernie's telling of hard truths would make them come off as "too far left". The fact of the matter is that the Democrats are a center-to-center-left party, and always have been. Most of the policies I listed above in the paragraph about Kasich are taken as simple common sense in most other developed nations. As Andrew Sullivan once put it, if this were England, the Democratic Party would actually be considered conservative – not "wildly leftist". If you think the Democrats represent radical left-wing liberalism, YOU. ARE. NOT. PAYING. ATTENTION. TO. REALITY.

This is hardly the first time I've railed against this sort of pseudo-intellectual centrist peacocking. I have called bullshit on this over, and over, and over again. I go after people who pull this crap almost as hard as I go after Republicans and misandrists. But the result is that I, and others like me, come off as a hyper-partisan broken record. "OF COURSE he's attacking the centrists, that's only because he's such a left-winger! Ha ha!"

Except we were not crying wolf. We never were. We were desperately trying to get people to wake up to the fact that blaming an extremist party and a reasonable party in equal measure amounts to a de facto win for the extremist party. And when that perpetually-mindlessly-regurgitated "both sides!" rhetoric has allowed Republicans to get away with bloody murder over and over and over and over again, how the fuck can you be even remotely surprised when it's the rhetoric Trump turns to when his supporters start waving Confederate flags and swastikas en mass?

Monday, August 14, 2017

E3 2017!

My E3 blogs are always delayed until a month or more after the show itself. What has two thumbs and doesn't care? :D

TOP 15 MOMENTS OF E3 2017:

1) Metroid: Samus Returns
Nintendo, after years of neglecting their critically-acclaimed Metroid franchise, has finally decided to show it some real love. This game is a top-to-bottom remake and modernization of the (nearly unplayable) Game Boy game, Metroid II. It uses 3D polygonal art instead of pixels, which is a tad odd; also odd is their decision to make this a 3DS game instead of a Switch game. But who really cares? METROID IS FINALLY BACK.

2) Metroid Prime 4
HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP. The Metroid Prime series is some of the best work Nintendo has ever done, and they finally announced the fourth entry in the series (the first entry in SEVEN YEARS). Had this announcement consisted of an actual video, rather than a simple logo/music teaser, this would easily have taken the #1 spot.

3) Super Mario Odyssey
The newest Mario game, and unlike the (still-excellent) Super Mario 3D world, this one is in the same vein as Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and the Super Mario Galaxy games. Who can argue with a pedigree like that?

4) Xbox One X
Microsoft announced their newest gaming console, an ultra-powerful upgraded version of the Xbox One. The machine is purpose-built to have so much processing horsepower that it will be able to render games in ultra-HD 4K resolution with relative ease. Not only that, but dozens of Xbox One games already in existence will be getting upgrades that allow them to be played on the Xbox One X in full 4K glory. The downside is the $500 price tag, which means I have no need to get one for at least another year or two.

5) Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
The first newly-rebooted Wolfenstein game, which I reviewed here, was very well done from a storytelling standpoint, even if the actual gameplay was hit-or-miss. But it was easily enough that I was already on-board for the sequel, especially with a (EIGHT-MINUTE LONG) trailer as hilariously batshit-insane as this one.

6) Creative Director of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle tears up when his game is shown off
To summarize the response that went viral on 4Chan, you can't blame the guy for getting emotional, considering he poured his heart and soul into a Mario game handicapped with Ubisoft's who-gives-a-shit Rabbids franchise, but then saw the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto himself excitedly showing off his creation on-stage at E3.

7) Spider-Man (PS4)
The game is, for all intents and purposes, a "Batman: Arkham" game but with Spider-Man as the main character. I, and the countless others who have made that comparison, do so as a HUGE COMPLIMENT to this awesome-looking game. If we're being honest, the game's biggest flaw by far is that its developer, Insomniac Games, is currently insisting on making this a Playstation-only game. The corporate bean-counting douchebags who made that business call should be drug into the street, tarred, and feathered.

8) The Last Night
As put it, "a stunning take on 16-bit games for the 4K generation". This game combines ultra-high-quality pixel art from the 16-bit era (read: SNES era) with modern graphical techniques and storytelling. Between this game, The Artful Escape, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, E3 2017 was a VERY good year for modern, artistic 2D side-scrollers.

9) Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Blind Forest, the critically-acclaimed and much-beloved Xbox game from 2015, is getting a sequel that looks to be on-par with its highly emotional and artistically gorgeous predecessor (which, by the way, I am hoping to finally play later this year).

10) Skyrim comes to the Nintendo Switch (with Zelda-themed additions)
I could never get excited about Skyrim, because....well, Zelda exists. But Bethesda is porting Skyrim to the Switch and adding elements from the Zelda franchise, like the Hylian Shield and the Master Sword. So.......maaaaaaaybe I think about giving it a look after all.

11) God of War 4
This game may be another PS4 exclusive, but I can't help at marvel at how impressive it is compared to its predecessor games in the God of War franchise. The best word to describe those games is "immature", with low-brow storytelling with enough mindless violence and sex scenes to keep teenage future-frat-bros stimulated. GOW4 appears to be a different beast altogether: the violence is still there, but because the game focuses on the relationship between the main anti-hero protagonist Kratos and his son, it's clear that the developers wanted to give this game some of the heart and soul that the other games lacked. (Also, as I mentioned when the game was first revealed last year, I'm always really amused by how much the newly-matured Kratos looks like Andrew Sullivan, my favorite writer).

12) Forza Motorsport 7
Sure, the Forza Motorsport franchise might not have the free-spirited open-world fun that its sister series Forza Horizon has, but THOSE GRAPHICS THOUGH. LOOK AT THEM. THEN IMAGINE THEM IN 4K.  :O !!!

13) Cuphead FINALLY gets a release date!
This charmingly hand-drawn Xbox game, painstakingly designed to look like an old 1930's cartoon, has been in development for AGES. But as of E3, we finally know that it has a set release date: September 29th.

14) Anthem
A massively-multiplayer online shooter in the same vein as Destiny, except everyone has an armada of what are essentially customizable Iron Man suits at their disposal. I could never get excited about Destiny, I but I do love Iron Man. So while I'm not sold on it yet, I'll definitely be keeping my eye on it. On a sad note, Corey Gaspur, the game's lead developer, recently passed away very unexpectedly.

15) The Artful Escape (of Francis Vendetti)
This is another artistic side-scrolling 2D platformer – I'm still light on most of the details around this game, but apparently the main character's electric guitar is his main tool, and plays a huge role in the game's platforming. Plus the music and art are cool, so.....neat?


• Nintendo dropped details about this year's upcoming DLC for Zelda: Breath of the Wild

• Nintendo also announced upcoming Kirby and Yoshi games for the Switch (god that Yoshi music is awful - but on the other hand, the game was - oddly enough - developed in Unreal Engine 4, a VERY high end game-development software package that is much more powerful than the sort of software that Nintendo usually works with)

Star Wars Battlefront II looks pretty rad so far, but aside from its beautiful graphics, I was pretty underwhelmed by the first game

• Microsoft announced that certain games from the original Xbox will become backwards compatible with the Xbox One (though I can't think of any that I'm terribly interested in)

Assassin's Creed: Origins was shown off – it's new Egyptian setting is beautiful, but the AC games (and the incredibly janky narrative that ties them all together) have never really caught my attention.

Dragon Ball FigherZ was announced. It looks neat, but can we please get a DBZ game in a genre other than fighting games for once?


Fictorum, a game from Scraping Bottom Games, was not shown this year because of the huge hurdles that independent developers have to jump over to get their games to the E3 show floor. Between the fact that it's not really a "start from nothing before building up" game like so many other action-RPGs are, and the fact that this game emphasizes the destructibility of its environments, it's already caught enough of my attention to merit a shout-out.