Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Scream Therapy

Jesus fucking Christ I am sick of the American health care system. It can barely even fucking be called a health care system, considering how much it functions as a fucking cartel. The whole fucking thing is driven by greedy, rich shitbag executives and corporate boards, because god fucking forbid anything in America should be based on anything other than capitalism and its principles of helping the rich curb-stomp the non-rich in the name of corporate profits.

We already fucking know better fucking systems exist – people in Canada, England, and France are fully aware of the extent to which American health care is a laughably pathetic sham. We could have health care that didn't suck balls here too, because the few people left in the country who still have functional brains already have plans drawn up to extend Medicare to everyone, which would in turn save American taxpayers $17 trillion over the next ten years.

But heaven fucking forbid we look at any sane plans, because a third of the country is made up of drooling simpletons who don't know any better than to say "thank you" when the fist of right-wing capitalism gets jammed firmly up their rectums – you can identify these people by their red MAGA hats. Meanwhile, another third of the country is completely fucking incapable of telling good ideas apart from ideas that are giant fucking shitastrophes, because their brains have been addled by too many years of running around in circles, flapping their arms, and screaming "BOTH sides are EQUALLY bad!" when one side wants to implement health care actually that does something besides happily fellate the CEOs of health cartels on an hourly basis, and the other side is literally waving swastikas around. Gosh, it's so fucking hard to tell who the fuck to root for!

It's the final third of the country who has any goddamn brain cells left. Or at least it used to be! Now half of this last group has apparently decided that they'd like to get in on that whole "being a hateful dumbass" thing and thinks that the way to fix the fucking planet is to start throwing people in jail just for having a fucking Y-chromosome. Way to focus on the wrong fucking thing, Wokeface McShitforbrains.

So we're down to about 1/6 of the country who has any semblance of an understanding as to what the fuck is going on and what actually needs to be done to fucking fix things. No fucking wonder we're one or two of Mitch McConnell's stupidity hurricanes away from a health care system that consists of people having to be indentured servants to the board members of insurance companies in order to receive a box full of used band-aids and expired aspirin to last them through the year. At which point 2/3 of the country would just fucking shrug and say "Hey, at least it's not socialism!"

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Birthday 2018

(I don't even know what game this is from.)

September ended up a really stressful month in a lot of ways. One of which being that the Kavanaugh nomination prompted a new string of unwelcome reminders of the full extent to which the right wing hates women and the left wing hates men. Seeing seething contempt toward men splashed across editorial pages and expressed blithely, in ways big and small, among liberals I know tends to have the effect of grinding my mental health across the blades of a cheese grater - but I tried to pull myself together enough to have a good birthday this year, and for the most part it worked decently enough.

For the past several years, I've always split my birthday into two weekends - one with friends and one with family. My friends all came over on Saturday the 22nd – Steph surprised me by putting Lego Batman decorations all around the house, China and Ryan got me a small model of the Batmobile from Arkham Knight, Dani got me some high-end Scotch, and Michelle and Ryan got me some Disaronno – the latter two gifts happen to be the ingredients to a Godfather, one of my favorite cocktails.

For dinner, we made pizzas – I grilled steak and hot links to go on a barbecue pizza, and bought gyro meat to make a Greek pizza. We also made a simple pepperoni/jalapeno pizza, and I grilled pineapple to go with the no-bake cookies and lower-calorie key lime pie Steph made me for dessert (the pie in particular was A+++). Then we spent the rest of the night watching the gloriously atrocious Super Mario Bros movie, having way too many drinks, and playing board games.


The following weekend (the 29th), my parents and sister came over, and Dani came back down. One of Steph's gifts to me was that she would run the murder mystery dinner party that she had previously gotten me as a gift (it came in a kit that included everything you need to play). The setup was that the six of us would each play a character in the mystery, and we would eat dinner and follow the game's instructions in order to try to figure out which of us committed the murder in question. I came up with an idea for a dinner that fit the theme of the party ("A Taste for Wine and Murder"). As it turned out, my dad was the murderer and Steph and my mom figured it out correctly. (Our kitten Charlie played the part of the corpse.)


I thought the murder mystery party was a TON of fun (partly because all of our terrible acting skills were on display). I would absolutely be up for doing another one at some point. My parents also got me some money to go toward our new backyard shed, and a 4K Ultra-HD copy of Ready Player One. My mom made oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies (my favorite) and frosted sugar cookies which my sister decorated with drawings that represented different things I like.


I think next year I might be ready to change up the birthday formula a bit. I'm not quite sure how just yet, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

Friday, August 10, 2018

PLEASE STOP SHOOTING LIBERALISM IN THE FOOT

Andrew Sullivan wrote a new article recently, in which a portion was titled "Why Democrats Are Losing Young White Men". It's something that literally every liberal in the country needs to understand right now:
[L]ook at white millennial men. They’ve gone from 48 percent to 37 percent Democratic support. More striking in their case is that they haven’t just moved away from the Democrats, but have now become Republicans. Their support for the GOP in the last two years has gone from 36 percent to 46. Which means that for white men between the ages of 18 and 34, the GOP now has a ten-point lead. It has achieved that swing in the last two years.

We don’t know why this has happened. It may be the economy, lower unemployment, and marginally lower taxes. But that doesn’t explain the yawning and growing gender gap. So here’s a guess: When the Democratic party and its mainstream spokespersons use the term “white male” as an insult, when they describe vast swathes of white men in America as “problematic,” when they call struggling, working-class white men “privileged,” when they ask in their media if it’s okay just to hate men, and white men in particular, maybe white men hear it. Maybe the outright sexism, racism, and misandry that is now regarded as inextricable from progressivism makes the young white men less likely to vote for a party that openly advocates its disdain of them.
A prime example:


I've been trying to sound the alarm bells on this for ages now. The more the SJWs and feminists bury their heads in the sand on this problem, the harder it will be to actually win elections against assholes like Trump.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

If you swap the genders and the result is sexist, then it was sexist before you swapped the genders

A webcomic artist I follow on Facebook recently published the following comic:


Hmm. Let's see how that looks from another perspective, shall we?


MY GOD! HOW OUTRAGEOUS!! This comic promotes violence against women! That mother is raising a misogynist! She should be ashamed of herself! I can't believe she supports men abusing women! Her son should be suspended immediately! This is why men end up so terrible! We need to boycott this comic strip NOW!

You don't get to be indignant when people say that feminism is about hating and bashing men, if you then turn around and cheer wildly every time a woman does something terrible or cruel to a man.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

E3 2018!

MY TOP 10 GAMES OF E3 2018:



(Click to enlarge)

1) Super Smash Bros Ultimate
My three favorite game franchises of all time are Zelda, Halo, and Smash Bros. This Smash Bros game – the 5th mainline game in the series – contains every single character from every other Smash Bros game up through this point. Every. Single. Character. (Including Solid Snake, from the Metal Gear Solid series – one of my all time favorites who was absent from Smash 4.)

GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME GIMME





2) Halo: Infinite
This game (otherwise known as Halo 6) was how Microsoft opened its E3 conference. The crowd went nuts, and for good reason – even if this was just a teaser of a demo of a game engine. (In other words, it didn't show much of anything, other that the ultra-high-end graphics that the next Halo will have.)





3) Unravel Two
The first Unravel game was an indie title (albeit one published by EA) that was unbelievably charming and very pretty to look at. But what took me surprise was how much I enjoyed the platforming gameplay, with swinging mechanics that instantly reminded me of playing the original Donkey Kong Country trilogy on the Super Nintendo.

This game was released almost as soon as it was announced, and I loved the first one so much that I bought this one instantly. (And they added co-op, so two players can play at once!)





4) Forza Horizon 4
The Forza Horizon series is one of my favorite franchises in gaming – it combines pure, unadulterated 'car porn' with objective-based open-world gameplay that, the first time I played it, reminded me of the Tony Hawk games I loved so much back in the Gamecube era. Not to mention that they're some of the best looking games ever created. FH4's biggest new addition to the mix is changing seasons – the game world now transitions between summer/fall/winter/spring, one real-world week at a time (and all four seasons still look gorgeous, in the game's trailer). This is another one that I have zero doubts about picking up later this year.





5) Super Mario Party
It's hard to tell much from the trailer (aside from adding a few gimmicks based on the Switch hardware itself), but it looks like this is a "back to the roots" Mario Party game. The series has had the same niggling problems since its inception: computer turns are too slow, and there's way too much random chance involved. Here's hoping Nintendo addresses some of those sorts of issues in this...er..."reboot". If that's the case, count me in. (It sure does look great in high-def, though.)





6) Doom: Eternal
This is the sequel to 2016's hysterically gory heavy-metal-blaring demon-slaying power trip utopia Doom, rebooting the series into something even more gloriously unapologetic than it had been up to that point. IDK WTF this trailer is meant to show off, but as long as there's more demon-slaughtering set to the background of death metal, I'm pretty much already sold.





7) Gears 5

I have some questions. Who the hell thought it would be okay to change the franchise from "Gears of War" to just "Gears"? Why the hell are we playing as Kate and not Marcus Fenix or his son anymore? Why does Marcus not have a beard anymore, but his son does now?

Questions aside, Gears of War 4 is still my favorite out of all the Gears games (though Gears 2 is a close second). So I have faith in its development team, and I will absolutely give this game a chance. Gears is like Halo: even the "bad" games in the series tend to be a lot better than an lot of other games. But I have questions.





8) Ori and the Will of Wisps
I still haven't gotten around to playing the first one yet, and I'm still excited for this one (admittedly, that's largely because the first Ori game was a critically-acclaimed artistic masterpiece).





9) Tunic
I hadn't seen or heard about this game until this trailer was released, but it's clear that this is an Xbox riff on the classic top-down SNES-style Legend of Zelda games. A pretty blatant riff, if we're being honest – but if you're gonna steal, steal from the best (i.e. Zelda). It sure does look charming as heck.





10) Anthem
This was in my "Top E3 Games 2017" list, too. It's slated to come out in February. Admittedly, I still don't have much interest at all in Destiny-style games. But this one had me sold from the minute everyone started saying "It's basically an Iron Man simulator".





HONORABLE MENTIONS:

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

This is a VERY short (and very FREE) game that was released almost as soon as it was announced. What caught my attention was how much the trailer made it look like an indie film, something that belongs at the Cannes Film Festival, or something like that. And that feeling carries across the rest of the game, as well (which I have already downloaded, played, and beaten twice). I actually love the game quite a bit, even though it's set in the same universe as the Life is Strange games, and I've never played any of those. (A word of warning: this is NOT a kid's game, and if it were a movie, it would almost certainly be rated R.)

Cyberpunk 2077

From the makers of The Witcher 3, this dystopian-near-future game won IGN's Game of the Show. It does look fantastic – my main concern is that I'll end up not playing it for the same reason I never played The Witcher, which is that I have little desire to sink 100+ hours into a game that doesn't have "Zelda" or "Red Dead" in the title anywhere.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

if ( KnotTied(Chris, Steph) ) { Blogging = true; return Blogging; }

Normal blogging will resume soon.

Eventually, I'll write a massive post about the entire wedding, but that probably won't be for awhile as there is a LOT of information and photos to compile and comb through.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wedding

Wedding

Wedding
Wedding
Wedding

WeddingWeddingWeddingWeddingWeddingWeddingWeddingWeddingWedding

Wedding

>_<

Friday, May 18, 2018

Sigh. Can we just fast-forward through it this time?


> I post the same Onion article / Jim Jefferies video as always, debunking all of the dumbass bullshit arguments that gun nuts always make

> I point out that gun nuts are INCREDIBLY fucking stupid, whiny-ass, childish little dipshits

> Gun nuts start running around in circles screaming "2A SEZ I GET TO OWN A TANK 4 SELF DEFENZ !!!!!!! " en masse at the top of their lungs

> "Reasonable centrists" tell me the problem is that I'm just "too mean" to the gun nuts

> Investigation inevitably proves that gun control laws would have prevented or inhibited the shooting in one way or another

> Everyone ignores the issue and does nothing, again, until the next mass shooting a few weeks from now

This will keep happening until our country is, you know, less stupid.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Game Review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


This has proven to be one of the harder reviews I've written, because Breath of the Wild is a huge cultural milestone, an epic buffet of the best that video gaming has to offer, and my new all-time favorite game ever. I knew that any review worth writing or reading would have to encompass an awful lot. So here we go.

For starters, Breath of the Wild's mission statement was to rethink most of the standard Zelda conventions, and to bring different elements of the series into a more modern era. Part of the way it does this is by borrowing (arguably shamelessly) quite a few elements from other critically acclaimed games, and tweaking them to dovetail with the already-masterclass Legend of Zelda formula. Some examples:
• First and foremost, the game is now completely open-world. Whereas previous Zeldas gave the illusion of an open world while actually being cordoned off into discrete areas, BOTW takes the concept of "anywhere you can see, you can get to" (which was, arguably, invented by Rockstar with its Grand Theft Auto series) and pushes it considerably farther than most other games have dared. You see a giant mountain in the distance that looks like it might have some secrets hidden at its peak? Go for it. You see some unnamed ruins on your map that look like they might still hold supplies or treasure? Nothing stopping you from checking it out. It's a concept that sounds simple in theory, but this game executes it better than almost all games that have come before it.

• Link now has a "paraglider" item, which lets him glide down from any high point so long as he has the stamina to hold onto it. This mechanic was almost certainly lifted from the Batman: Arkham game series, another open-world game where players can use Batman's cape to glide down from any perch or rooftop. In both games, this is useful both as a method of traveling quickly and as a way to surprise a group of enemies and attack them before they know what hit them.

• In this game, there are 120 "shrines" to find – individual puzzle rooms that both add to your list of fast-travel points, and contain treasure and orbs to increase Link's health or stamina. Each of these individual rooms is comparable to a room in the Portal series, right down to the orange-and-blue aesthetic. And like in Portal, each room is a bite-sized (or larger) puzzle or combat situations that is solved with the tools Link has on hand throughout the game, whether that's creating blocks of ice out of water, bombs to blow up obstacles, the ability to freeze an item in time and impart kinetic energy on it, or the ability to manipulate metal objects via magnetism.

• For the first time in the Zelda series, Link does not collect hearts to restore his life meter. Instead, he has to hunt, harvest, or purchase food items (of which there are countless dozens) that can then be cooked into dishes that restore health or enhance Link in some other way (such as increasing his speed or restoring his stamina). This element of survivalism (especially early in the game when health is low) and foraging for supplies has quite a bit in common with Metal Gear Solid 3, where Snake (that game's protagonist) has to continually hunt for food and supplies to keep his stamina up.

• Finally, some people have compared this games difficulty level (especially in the early stages) to Dark Souls – whereas previous Zelda games have been very generous with the amount of damage Link can take, most attacks in this game take multiple hearts off Link's life meter – at least before he acquires and upgrades different armor sets. This requires you to play the game more thoughtfully early on, relying more on sneak attacks and carefully-timed parries as opposed to simply charging in and slashing at everything in sight. Personally, I find the argument that this game is much more difficult than previous Zeldas to be overblown – it's somewhat true at the very beginning of the game, but as you progress Link quickly becomes considerably more durable (read: badass), to the point where by the end of the game you can crush just about any enemy with relatively little effort. BOTW's progression in this regard feels somewhat more rewarding than in previous games.



Speaking of armor sets, this brings me to another gloriously overhauled element to this Zelda game: customization. Whereas previous Zelda games gave Link a small handful of unchanging armor sets to choose from, BOTW has dozens upon dozens of different armor pieces available, most of which come with unique, specific bonuses and can be upgraded to provide greater protection. Want to boost Link's attack power? Use the Barbarian armor, consisting of bones and war paint. Want to make Link climb more quickly? Use the climbing gear set, consisting of coils of rope and extra carabiners. Want to move quietly and stealthily? Dress like a Sheikah and ninja to your heart's content (for the first time in the series, Link can use a katana!). Or go with my favorite armor set, the Soldier armor – complete with full-on Medieval breastplate and pauldrons, and boasting a higher defensive power than almost any other armor. Not a bad choice for turning Link into a neigh-invulnerable tank after it's fully upgraded.

Not only are there thousands of possible configurations of armor, but most armor sets can also be dyed to just about any color you want. For example, many players will take the hooded Hylian armor set and dye it white, making Link appear like a character from Assassin's Creed. Stephanie's approach was to dye all of Link's armor dark purple. My own personal preference was to go the classic route, and dye everything green:


(God damn do I love that weapon's description.)

And as if that wasn't enough, Link's stable of up to five horses can all be customized in this game, with different saddles, bridles, manes, and names. Here is my one of my first horses:


I named her "Specklebutt" and put flowers in her mane. BECAUSE I CAN.



And the game's story? It's not bad, especially by Legend of Zelda standards. One hundred years before the game begins, Link and Zelda fought against Ganon (the series' main antagonist) in a battle that did not go well – it ended with much of Hyrule destroyed, and Link in a coma and barely clinging to life. He is placed in a "Shrine of Resurrection", while Zelda contains Ganon in a magical stalemate until Link recovers. 100 years later, Link awakens from his coma inside the shrine (looking pretty fit for 18 going on 118), but without any of his memories of who he is or why he's there. Zelda telepathically contacts him to tell him that she will soon be unable to hold Ganon back any longer, and that she will need his help to end him once and for all. Link then sets off to recover his memories and to regain enough strength to beat Ganon in their inevitable rematch.

So the story is pretty good, but I would caution against going in expecting the same level of plot depth and character development of something like Witcher 3 or Red Dead Redemption. The story is not necessarily the game's main strength (although the epic moment where Link finally storms Hyrule Castle was my single favorite gaming moment in all of 2017). But the game's strongest draw and greatest innovation is in its "chemistry engine". This is the term the developers at Nintendo coined to explain how the different systems within the game interact with each other, consistently and predictably like the elements on the Periodic Table.

It's a concept that's difficult to describe, but leads to massive flexibility and creative-thinking options for problem solving. Here's just one hypothetical example: say that there's a puzzle in one of the shrines that requires you to activate a switch with electricity to open a gate, and there's a circuit-like path leading from the source of electricity to the switch. You could do the standard Zelda thing and manipulate metal boxes with your magnetic ability to completely the "circuit" and trigger the switch – OR you could simply drop a metal sword on the open part of the circuit to complete it (because metal conducts electricity!) – OR you could simply pull out your electrically-charged shock arrows and shoot the switch directly – OR you could use completely unrelated items to build a huge fire on the floor of the shrine, and then pull out your paraglider and ride the fire's updrafts like a hot-air balloon to sail right over the gate entirely. Almost every puzzle in the game has several different ways it can be solved, and it can be EXTREMELY satisfying to try to come up with some clever trick that lets you use the consistent internal logic of the game's "chemistry engine" to "cheat" your way to a more expedient solution, instead of the one the developers intended.



Whether intentional on the part of the developers or not, I found that the game raised some interesting philosophical questions as well.

One example that sticks out in my mind is Gerudo Town – this city in the game is run by the Gerudo, an all-female tribe of warriors that does not allow men within the city walls (Link eventually manages to sneak inside, of course). On the surface, the philosophy of the Gerudo tribe is blatantly sexist, and the town is a feminist paradise. But the longer you poke and prod around the city, the more it becomes apparent that this no-men-allowed attitude has caused quite a few problems for the tribe. Many of the town's citizens are both deeply yearning for someone to share affection with, and hopelessly socially awkward around men outside of the village, to the point where they have to take classes taught by an instructor (to humorous effect) to try to learn how to approach and interact with men. One Gerudo ends up so frustrated by these problems that she had sunk into a drunken depression, sobbing in the town's tavern. (Unfortunately, unlike a similar-ish situation in Wolfenstein II, I was not able to help her.)

The town's sexist philosophy and the way Link has to sneak in had me groaning and bearing it, until it became more apparent that not everything was how it appeared on the surface. Learning more about the town's inhabitants and the myriad problems their one-gender policy had caused eventually had me feeling very sympathetic toward the tribe, and that unexpected emotional reversal led to Gerudo Town becoming one of my favorite areas of the game.



Another interesting question: technology. This game appears to take place at a very advanced point in the overall timeline of the world of Hyrule (a timeline which Nintendo keeps very vague intentionally). And as such, some of the world's technology has very clear analogues in the real, modern world. The most specific example of this is Link's "Sheikah Slate", the first item Link picks up after waking from his coma. The slate is, for all intents and purposes, a touch-screen tablet (Gizmodo states it bluntly: "Link Has a Goddamn iPhone"). But this sort of tech in the game is not powered by circuits and electricity, but instead by magical energy.

This is interesting, because the game has its own internal logic here that raises questions about the real world: if the sort of magic that exists in Hyrule existed in the real world as well, how would it have changed the evolution of our technology over the course of history? The inhabitants of Hyrule still fight with swords and ride on horses and light their homes with candles and lanterns, but they've also developed cameras (a function of the Slate), robots (the Guardian enemies), lasers (the weapons used by the Guardians), GPS (communication between the Slate and what are basically cell phone towers), rubber (part of the armor used for defense against electricity), and motorcycles (transportation added to the game via DLC). Obviously the developers added these items to the game because they improve certain aspects of gameplay, much like technology improves certain aspects of our lives in the real world – but intentional or not, it shows how the technology of Hyrule has advanced over the ages along a parallel track with technology in the real world.

This is very different from most other fantasy series, in which technology never seems to advance regardless of how intelligent or inventive or evolved the world's inhabitants are. Jalopnik.com states this in an article titled "The Game of Thrones Car Paradox: How Magic Makes People Stupid". Its thesis is that in series like GoT or Harry Potter, reliance on magic severely inhibits the development of technology:
According to the HBO series and the books, the recorded history of Westeros in Game of Thrones goes back over 12,000 years, which is roughly comparable to recorded post-neolithic history here on our warm, damp Earth. As far as anyone can tell, the inhabitants of the fictitious GoT universe seem to be just like us normal humans, they seem to exhibit the same rough level of intelligence, and thanks to HBO's liberal policy on nudity, they seem to have very much the same biology and anatomy as us. Sure, they have seasons of random length, but they appear to live on a world with similar natural resources and basic laws of nature

And yet after 10,000 years of development, us non-fiction humans have cars and iPads and plastic tampon applicators and ham radios and spaceships and Pop Rocks and giant underground boring machines and radios that play A Prarie Home Companion (a different sort of boring machine) and Makita drills and all sorts of other highly advanced technology.

And what do the people of Westeros have? Windmills, ironwork and other metalwork, wooden carts, stonemasonry structures, woven fabrics, probably waterwheels, dyes, ceramics, glass, and not a whole hell of a lot else. It's essentially where humanity was in the 1300s or so, minus gunpowder.
This is where Hyrule in Breath of the Wild is different, even if it is, like Westeros, well over 10,000 years old. In many ways, it is still a medieval society – but in others, Hyrule is arguably more technologically advanced that we are in the real world.

We think of Hyrule's tech as being powered by "magic", but there's a well-known quote British author Arthur C. Clarke that states "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Certainly some of our modern real-world technology would seem like magic to people in the 1300's, but what if the "magic" that powers all of Hyrule's Sheikah tech is not magic at all, but rather "sufficiently advanced technology" and we simply don't have the language or capacity to understand how it works?

It seems highly unlikely that the developers at Nintendo deliberately intended to raise these sorts of philosophical questions about the evolution of technology in different magical vs non-magical societies. But this could be seen as an example of the interpretation of a work of art being out of the artist's hands.



Philosophical ruminations aside, Breath of the Wild is a tour de force, and one of the finest works of technological art ever crafted. If you think I am overstating my case here, just look at a sampling of its review scores, via Wikipedia:


According to Wikipedia, it holds the largest number of perfect reviews of any game on review aggregator Metacritic. And I have to agree with the consensus here.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my new all-time favorite video game, ever.

Overall Score:  11 / 10

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Katie Roiphe's essay "The Other Whisper Network" is exactly what liberalism needs to hear right now


The March 2018 issue of Harper's Magazine published an essay by Katie Roiphe titled "The Other Whisper Network". It can be read for free, but the magazine's website limits the reader to only a single article per month before putting up a paywall. That paywall is why I'll only be quoting small portions of the article here.

The article is a counter-narrative to the SJW-strain of radicalized feminism that has taken hold over so much of modern liberalism, and pleads with the reader to begin taking note of the movement's excesses and how easily they could come back to bite us all (liberals) in the ass. Many of Roiphe's points are similar to ones that I have been trying to make for years now, and the same can be said for many of Andrew Sullivan's recent articles, as well.

In fact, this essay (and the vitriolic reaction it inspired) was the catalyst for Andrew Sullivan's January 12th article titled "It's Time to Resist the Excesses of #MeToo", which I found profoundly moving. Both Sullivan and Roiphe herself pointed out that even before Roiphe published her essay, she was already facing a tidal wave of unhinged reprisals from outraged feminists who essentially wanted to censor it out of existence. She references this in the opening of her essay:
Of course, the prepublication frenzy of Twitter fantasy and fury about this essay, which exploded in early January, is Exhibit A for why nobody wants to speak openly. Before the piece was even finished, let alone published, people were calling me “pro-rape,” “human scum,” a “harridan,” a “monster out of Stephen King’s ‘IT,’?” a “ghoul,” a “bitch,” and a “garbage person”—all because of a rumor that I was planning to name the creator of the so-called Shitty Media Men list. The Twitter feminist Jessica Valenti called this prospect “profoundly shitty” and “incredibly dangerous” without having read a single word of my piece. Other tweets were more direct: “man if katie roiphe actually publishes that article she can consider her career over.” “Katie Roiphe can suck my dick.” With this level of thought policing, who in their right mind would try to say anything even mildly provocative or original?
I have received tons of this sort of backlash myself, some of which from people I consider(ed) to be very close friends.

The title "The Other Whisper Network" refers to other women who are beginning to have deep reservations and concerns about the direction that this type of feminism is moving in, but who are too scared by the prospect of retribution (and justifiably so) to speak out in public or on the record about it.

Roiphe quotes several of these conversations – all of which were anonymous by request – in her article. Some examples:
• I think “believe all women” is silly. Women are unreliable narrators also. I understand how hard it is to come forward, but I just don’t buy it. It’s a sentimental view of women....I think there is more regretted consent than anyone is willing to say out loud.

• If someone had sent me the Media Men list ten years ago, when I was twenty-five, I would have called a harmlessly enamored guy a stalker and a sloppy drunken encounter sexual assault. I’d hate myself now for wrecking two lives.

• Why didn’t I get hit on? What’s wrong with me? #WhyNotMeToo

• I think #MeToo is a potentially valuable tool that is degraded when women appropriate it to encompass things like “creepy DMs” or “weird lunch ‘dates.’” And I do not think touching a woman’s back justifies a front page in the New York Times and the total annihilation of someone’s career.
She goes on to give different examples of feminist overzealousness:
In 1996, a six-year-old boy with Coke-bottle glasses, Johnathan Prevette, was suspended from school for sexual harassment after kissing a little girl on the cheek. This was widely interpreted as a sign of excess: as the New York Times put it, a “doctrine meant to protect against sexual harassment might have reached a damaging level of absurdity.” Yet I wonder what would happen today. Wouldn’t feminists be tweeting, “Don’t first grade girls have a right to feel safe?”
And points out that this fundamentally non-liberal zealotry is not limited to a handful of bad actors, but ingrained in SJW feminism as a whole:
It would be one thing if collapsing the continuum of bad behaviors happened only in moments of overshoot recognized by everyone. But I am afraid that this collapse is an explicit part of this new ideology. The need to differentiate between smaller offenses and assault is not interesting to a certain breed of Twitter feminist; it makes them impatient, suspicious. The deeper attitude toward due process is: don’t bother me with trifles! (One of the editors of n+1, Dayna Tortorici, tweets: “I get the queasiness of no due process. But....losing your job isn’t death or prison.”)

[...] Because of the anger animating the movement, incidents that might otherwise seem outrageous become acceptable or normal to us. The Shitty Media Men list, the anonymously crowd-sourced spreadsheet chronicling sexual misconduct in the publishing world, is a good example. If we think of how we would feel about a secretly circulating, anonymously crowd-sourced list of Muslims who might blow up planes, the strangeness of the document snaps into focus.
Roiphe also spends time focusing on the extent to which modern feminism has begun to shamelessly conflate relatively brief moments of awkwardness or irritation ("microaggressions") with full-blown sexual assault:
In one of the sexual harassment stories in New York magazine’s The Cut, Emma Cline describes a drunken evening during which the head of a literary organization sits too close to her in a cab and asks for her number on the way home from a party. (“Why is this a story?” one of the deeply anonymous says.) Granted, we’re now used to the endless mediation of screens in our personal lives. Still, one wonders when someone asking for your phone number became an aggressive and dehumanizing gesture rather than, say, annoying or awkward. In a way, asking someone for her phone number seems like asking for consent—it’s asking, not assuming, it’s reaching out, risking rejection. It begins to feel as if the endgame of this project is not bringing to account powerful sexual bullies but, as a male acquaintance puts it, the “presumptive criminalization of all male sexual initiatives.”
She then transitions into some of what I would consider to be the article's most important points. She points out the extent to which feminism (and, increasingly, liberalism at large, I would argue) is simultaneously oblivious to and comfortable with its own outright maliciousness and vitriolic contempt toward men:
Men are not entirely deluded if they sense that some of the anger is aimed at all men. Barely submerged in this project is the simmering idea that men have committed the dramatic and indefensible crime of being male. This tweet comes from Kaitlin Phillips (Twitter handle: ­@­yoloethics), a spirited young writer about the publishing world: “It’s not a revolution until we get the men to stop pitching ­LMAO.” In The Outline, a new digital publication, Leah Finnegan writes, “Many men wonder what to do with their entitled mouths and brains at moments like this and the answer is: shut up and go away.” She also tweeted, “Small, practical step to limit sex harassment: have obamacare cover castration.” While this is fairly extreme, its tone is not alien to anyone who dips even briefly into Twitter or Facebook. We are alarmed at the rampant and slippery Trumpian tendency to blame “all immigrants” or “all Muslims,” and blaming all men seems to me only a little less ominous. [...]

The rage can at times feel like bloodlust. [...]

While I was writing this essay, one of the anonymous emailed me a piece Donegan wrote in The New Inquiry about the devastating night of Trump’s victory. She had hosted an election gathering, and as the results came in, the men were drinking tequila out of a penis-shaped shot glass, and laughing and making jokes as the women cried and clutched one another. Instead of thinking about choosing new friends, she ends with a blanket indictment of men and a blow for the cause:

Here is what the last few days have reminded me: white men, even those on the left, are so safe, so insulated from the policies of a reactionary presidency, that many of them view politics as entertainment, a distraction without consequences, in which they get to indulge their vanity by fantasizing that they are on the side of good. . . . The morning after the election, I found the penis-shaped shot glass in my kitchen and threw it against the wall. I am not proud of this, but it felt good to destroy something a white man loved.
Can you see why some of us are whispering? It is the sense of viciousness lying in wait, of violent hate just waiting to be unfurled, that leads people to keep their opinions to themselves, or to share them only with close friends.
This type of sober, forthright analysis is admittedly very cathartic to read, as I am often made to feel (by other liberals, mind you) like I am "overreacting" to the feminist movement; I am constantly being told that my concerns and criticisms are overblown, and that these seemingly malicious excesses are nothing more than a justified reaction to omnipresent patriarchal oppression out of a desire for "gender equality". Should I have the audacity to argue otherwise, I am accused of trying to "mansplain" gender issues.

Roiphe understands the role that social media has played in both exacerbating and normalizing this type of vitriolic extremism, and points out the plainly obvious truth: this type of echo chamber is exactly what made the pro-Trump right so radical, as well:
I wouldn’t normally quote so much Twitter, but the extremes of vitriol unloosed in this conversation find their purest expression there. Some of these seemingly fringe figures are actually writers and editors who publish in places like The New Republic and n+1, who are involved in setting the tone of the conversation; one can very easily connect the dots between their views and those of more mainstream feminists. I have a feeling that if one met @yoloethics or the rest of her Twitter cohort in person, they would seem normal, funny, smart, well read. But the vicious energy and ugliness is there beneath the fervor of our new reckoning, adeptly disguised as exhilarating social change. It feels as if the feminist moment is, at times, providing cover for vindictiveness and personal vendettas and office politics and garden-variety disappointment, that what we think of as purely positive social change is also, for some, blood sport. The grammar is better in these feminist tweets, but they are nonetheless recognizably Trumpian.

In some ways, if we take the imaginative leap, the world Twitter feminists are envisioning—scrubbed clean of anyone hitting on anyone, asking for phone numbers, leaning over to kiss someone without seeking verbal permission—seems not that substantively far away from the world of Mike Pence saying he will never eat alone with a woman who is not his wife. This odd convergence reveals something critical about the moment: the complicated ways in which we may be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
In other words, perhaps we should leave the incessant puritanical sex-policing to the religious right.



I have nothing but admiration for Katie Roiphe and the courage it took for her to write this essay. There is much more to it than what I have quoted here, and the entire piece is worth a read. This is the type of thoughtful, self-aware course-correcting that liberalism needs more of if we are to avoid the fate of becoming as malicious, hypocritical, and incoherent as the Trump right.

No wonder so many on the SJW-feminist left felt threatened by it.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The single most infuriating aspect of Oklahoma's problems with education and budget:


RE: the teacher protests for better pay and education funding, currently happening at the Oklahoma state capitol

I struggle to adequately describe my rapidly increasing infuriation at seeing staunchly conservative Oklahomans on Facebook posting again and again about how much they "SUPPORT THEY TEACHERS!!!", without ever realizing that THEIR OWN INSISTENCE on voting Republican over and over and over again is what led to our education/budgeting problems in the fucking first place.

It's the Republican Party that has dragged this state through the mud in terms of budgeting and education funding. They slashed the income tax, they slashed taxes for oil & gas executives, they gutted regulations. Right-wing politicians were drunk with power in this state, and look where it's gotten us:
//Republicans took full control of Oklahoma's government in the Tea Party-fueled 2010 elections, and they quickly set about slashing taxes, joining neighboring Kansas in launching a grand experiment to showcase the GOP's supply-side theory of economics.

[...] Like in Kansas, Oklahoma's tax cuts and deregulation spree didn't have the desired effect on the economy. Rural hospitals and nursing homes are closing, prison populations are at crisis levels, and state Highway Patrol officers got mileage limits last year because the state couldn't afford the gas bill.//
Or, as the state's own KFOR news station put it:


And don't fucking try to tell me that "both parties" are part of the problem. You can't blame the state's problems on the party that hasn't had any real sway over the state's legislation for years on end now:

(I made these in Excel, based on data for each Congressional election in the state going back to 1999. Click to enlarge.)


If that's not enough, just look at how Oklahoman politicians are reacting to these teacher protests:
• Kevin McDugle, Republican: bashes Oklahoma teachers in a video, then tries to delete it when it goes viral

• Mary Fallin, Republican (and Governor): compares Oklahoma teachers to "a teenage kid that wants a better car"

• John Enns, Republican (who represents Enid): claims that some of those protesting at the state capitol are "paid actors", a claim which is often heard any time there are mass protests in opposition to Republicans or their actions

• Scott Inman, Democrat: defended teachers multiple times at the capitol, and has his mic cut off by Josh Cockroft (who is - surprise! - a Republican). He then held a private meeting for teachers in a conference room at the capitol.

• How about a whole shitload of Democrats: rallying with teachers inside the capitol
Yes, Oklahoma's problem is shitty politicians. But those shitty politicians didn't just magically pop out of thin air and into their desks at the Capitol. The people of Oklahoma voted them in.

It is not "making it political" to say that YOU NEED TO START PAYING ATTENTION TO WHICH PARTY THE ANTI-TEACHER ASSHOLES ARE IN.

It's already political, and it has been for years. If you want things in this state to change, you need to actually get out there and show it on election day in November by actually voting for the party that HASN'T been single-minded in shoveling all of our state's money into the pockets of oil executives for the past 10+ years.

One party, and one party alone has caused this state's education/budgeting problems. If you want things to actually change, you can't keep voting for them over and over and over just because Fox News and some right-wing bullshit on Facebook keep telling you to.

We're already well aware of where that path leads.

Monday, March 26, 2018

"Boys Will Be Boys"

....is a phrase that is constantly demonized by the modern feminist left. Which is a prime example of its remarkable lack of insight when it comes to masculinity.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Two Different Issues, One Root Cause



So, students around the country are planning to walk out of schools to protest the country's criminally insane lack of gun control laws, and teachers around Oklahoma are planning to walk out of schools to protest how abysmally underfunded the state's education system is, and I'm gonna need everyone to wake the fuck up and realize that BOTH OF THESE PROBLEMS ARE CAUSED BY HAVING TOO MANY RIGHT-WING REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS.

They are the NRA's subservient little bitches.

They have controlled Oklahoma's state legislature for countless years on end.

If you always vote for them, you are the reason things are like this.

Wake. Up.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Bullying, Intimidation, Silencing


Andrew Sullivan wrote another great article a couple Fridays ago. I don't consider this one as earth-shattering in its truth telling as this one was, and I don't feel as compelled to quote-and-highlight the entire thing as I did here. But this is the passage that stood out to me most:
An entirely intended byproduct of [SJW] bullying — and Roiphe is just the latest victim — is silence. If voicing an “incorrect” opinion can end your career, or mark you for instant social ostracism, you tend to keep quiet. This silence on any controversial social issue is endemic on college campuses, but it’s now everywhere. Think of the wonderful SNL sketch recently, when three couples at a restaurant stumble onto the subject of Aziz Ansari. No one feels capable of saying anything in public. In the #MeToo debate, the gulf between what Twitter screams and what pops up in your private email in-box is staggering. It’s as big a gulf on the left as you find between the public statements and private views of Republicans on Trump. This is compounded by the idea that only a member of a minority group can speak about racism or homophobia, or that only women can discuss sexual harassment. The only reason this should be the case is if we think someone’s identity is more important than the argument they might want to make. And that campus orthodoxy is now the culture’s as a whole.

Microaggressions? How else do you explain how the glorious defenestration of horrific perpetrators of sexual abuse and harassment so quickly turned into a focus on an unwanted hug or an off-color remark? The whole cultural Marxist idea of a microaggression, after all, is that it’s on a spectrum with macro-aggression. Patriarchy and white supremacy — which define our world — come in micro, mini and macro forms — but it’s all connected. A bad date is just one end of a patriarchal curve that ends with rape. And that’s why left-feminists are not just interested in exposing workplace abuse or punishing sex crimes, but in policing even consensual sex for any hint of patriarchy’s omnipresent threat.
I very rarely post about social issues on Facebook anymore, because the torrential downpour of shit my fellow liberals gave me for it led to a degree of social ostracism, which in turn exacted a heavy toll on my mental health. But I cannot allow myself to be fully silenced on these issues, so I speak out here on my blog instead.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Top 10 Games of 2017

(I know, I know, I'm a month and a half late.)



NOTE: Per usual, this list refers to the top 10 games I played in 2017, not games released in 2017.

10) Cuphead
9) Doom
8) Firewatch
7) The Turing Test
6) South Park: The Fractured But Whole
5) Gone Home
4) Batman: The Telltale Series
3) Super Mario Odyssey
2) Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
1) Zelda BOTW

(I do not have a review yet for Breath of the Wild, as the game is such a cultural milestone and personal favorite that any review that did the game justice would need to be much more in depth than I typically go. So I will write that sometime in the coming weeks, as I am currently on my second playthrough of the game.)

Previous Winners:  [2016]

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

17 killed in Florida school shooting

Obligatory "Fuck the NRA and every limp-dick dumbass piece of shit who supports them."


Obligatory "No, seriously, American pro-gun arguments are so unbelievably, incomprehensibly fucking stupid that side-effects of hearing them may include nosebleeds, severe nausea, and rage-blackouts."

Monday, February 12, 2018

Favorite 2018 Super Bowl Commercials!

(Note: These are all just my own personal rankings, obviously.)

Tide killed it this year. I mean, they killed of several stupid people via the Tide Pod Challenge, but they also had the best Super Bowl ad campaign with their series of parodies:



More: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

In second place was Jeff Goldblum's Jeep ad:



Third place went to another Jeep ad - simple, but darn effective:



Bud Light is in fourth place, with this pair of commercials:



The Doritos / Mt Dew rap battle between Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman was in fifth (I sure can't wait to try the new Sprite-flavored Mountain Dew!):



Sappy, sentimental ads are usually more grating than they are impressive, but this Toyota ad was still good enough to take the sixth spot:



Same goes for the Hyundai 'Hope Detector' ad in seventh:



I liked how clever the Intuit "skip ad" ad was, so I'm giving it #8:



Groupon's ad for supporting local businesses comes in at #9, because fuck the rich:



And finally, Toyota's "One Team" ad, because it's a nice thought:






HONORABLE MENTION:

I lol'd at Wendy's "iceberg/Titanic" dig
The "Avocado Dome" ad was amusing
Trailer for Avengers 3
Trailer for the Han Solo movie


DISHONORABLE MENTION:

Using MLK to sell Dodge Ram trucks? Really?
There is no context in which Dr. Oz does not suck.
This Budweiser ad is almost good, except for the part where they spent millions of dollars to brag about donating what probably amounted to a fraction of that.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Game Review: Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus


This game.....man, is it something else. This game answers the question "What would Schindler's List be like if it were directed by Quentin Tarantino?"

Wolfenstein II's story is constantly pinging back and forth between being hilarious, bizarre, poignant, touching, infuriating, triumphant, cathartic, and hilarious. (Hilarious deserves to be in there twice.) The action and gameplay take a back seat, in my opinion, to said story, which is incredibly wild and proudly leans into its own craziness. It mixes an (admittedly unrealistic) retro/sci-fi Nazi-dominated American setting with characters that are believable, grounded, and easy to get invested in.

One character in particular caught my attention: Sigrun Engel. She is the daughter of the game's sadistic, psychopathic antagonist, who very early in the game joins the player's anti-Nazi resistance movement. Prior to the game's story, she spent most of her life being insulted and emotionally abused by the villain, and even after joining the player's side she is constantly being insulted and metaphorically spat on by other resistance members because of her Nazi background. BJ Blazkowicz (the player's character), however, treats her with kindness, and that can lead to very touching moments not just in cutscenes, but also through player-triggered moments in-game. Specifically, this includes what was not only my absolute favorite moment in this game, but also my second-favorite gaming moment in 2017, period (the first being when Link finally storms Hyrule Castle in BOTW).

(From 12:57 to 14:15 in this video):



Here's what happens: the player walks into the mess hall of the resistance's base and sees a group of resistance members sitting together for a meal. Sigrun comes to sit down beside them to eat, and the group silently stands up and moves to a different table out of antipathy toward Sigrun. Sigrun sits silently, clearly in deep sadness. It's at this point where I wanted to be able to cheer her up, so I moved to where she was sitting and tried pressing the action button – not actually expecting anything to happen. But, in a moment that took me COMPLETELY BY SURPRISE, something DOES happen: Sigrun and BJ strike up a short conversation, where she is grateful for his company. The resistance members, who respect BJ, notice this conversation from the table they moved to, and ask Sigrun how she knows him. She tells them that she helped BJ escape from the Nazis (which happened in one of the first levels). This impresses the resistance members, and they invite Sigrun over to their table to join in the game they're playing.

Holy shit.

I mean, really, HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!

I was not expecting the game to give me the opportunity to cheer Sigrun up like that. I can't recall very many other games, let alone action/shooter games, that give players the opportunity to affect characters like that.

That moment is just one of several that endeared me to Sigrun as a character, including an incredibly cathartic moment just before the game's final level where she not only firmly stands up for herself, but also unapologetically vents about being friend-zoned by another character. I don't want to spoil that cutscene too much, but it's so glorious that I actually cheered when it happened.

Sigrun is my favorite game character of 2017, and one of my all-time favorite video game characters, ever.

It's moments and details like this that put Wolfenstein II just one tiny notch above Super Mario Odyssey, in my opinion. It's not nearly enough to knock Breath of the Wild out of my top spot for Game of 2017, but it's firmly entrenched as one of my favorite FPS campaigns of all time.

One last piece of advice: since action is so far in the backseat compared with story, do yourself a favor and just play the game on its easiest difficulty. Yes, the description of that setting is insulting – but hey, if they wanted us to play on higher difficulty, then they should have made the gameplay as compelling as the story and characters are, right?

Overall: 10/10

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Game Reviews: Cuphead, The Turing Test, South Park: Fractured But Whole, Gone Home, Super Mario Odyssey

Man, haven't done one of these in a while...




Cuphead

I haven't finished this game, and I may never finish this game, but I'm going to review it anyway. The reason I may never finish it is that this game is stupidly, painfully difficult. Absurdly difficult games are a bit of a trend these days (thanks, Dark Souls and Super Meat Boy), but it's a trend I find more annoying than anything else. I play video games to relax, why the hell would I want them to have the opposite effect and send my stress levels skyrocketing? In fact, I actually abhor this trend to such an extent that it's the reason I wrote my first ever game review on this blog: I wanted to tear Retro Studios a new one for making Donkey Kong Country 4 so difficult that it wound up being almost no fun to play (and I LOVED the first 3 DKC games on the Super Nintendo).

The thing most people talk about when it comes to Cuphead is it's artwork, which is a near-perfect recreation of old 1930's cartoons, both visually and musically. The artwork is what drew me (and most people) to this game in the first place, only to later find that it's saddled with such brutal gameplay.

TLDR: This game is absolutely, stunningly gorgeous to look at and listen to, but this "HAHA LOOK HOW HARD OUR GAME IS" trend can pretty much just go fuck itself.

Overall: 5/10


The Turing Test

I only bought this game because (A) it was free on Games With Gold, and (B) almost every review compared it to Portal. Which is an apt comparison: it's a first-person puzzle-shooter (so basically the genre that Portal invented). You play as one of the last survivors on a futuristic space station set on one of the planets on the far outer reaches of the solar system. You're awoken by an AI companion, and you and the AI must work together to figure out what the hell is going on. To go into much more detail would be to spoil the story, and it should be noted that the story is a very strong element to this game. The middle of the game contains a massive twist that I didn't see coming at all, but wound up absolutely loving.

It's not nearly as close to flawless as Portal 2 was, but if you like the Portal games, I VERY VERY HIGHLY recommend trying this one.

Overall: 8/10


South Park: The Fractured But Whole

This game is the sequel to South Park: The Stick of Truth. Like that game, it's an RPG written and co-designed by Matt Stone and Trey Parker that spectacularly mirrors the delightful depravity (and aesthetics) of the TV show. The main characters have decided to role-play as super heroes instead of as fantasy characters this time, and the game often comes off as a parody of Marvel's Avenger movies.

Most of the game is as brilliant and fun as TSOT, and most of my gripes about it are relatively minor: the combat is slightly more complicated and takes a little more getting used to, the game is a few hours longer than the first one (i.e. a few hours longer than it needed to be), and the crafting system is largely superfluous where the item/inventory system of the first game would have been sufficient. The game's most gruesome and shocking moment ends up being a wasted opportunity for a joke, and the ending isn't nearly as strong (or hilarious) as TSOT's was.

Those minor gripes aside, the game is still a crapload of fun and absolutely hilarious.

Overall: 9/10


Gone Home

This was another free Game With Gold, and HOLY CRAP I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. This was the first game in the nascent "walking simulator" genre of games. Walking Simulators are games that have minimal gameplay elements, but generally a much more in-depth focus on story and on exploring highly detailed but relatively small areas. Gone Home has no real enemies and only a handful of puzzles to solve, but it emphasizes the touching story about a college-age daughter coming back to the US after spending some time overseas, and seeing her family's new house for the first time. As with The Turing Test, to go into much more detail would be too spoilery. But much of the story is gleaned from examining objects left lying around the house. If all this sounds dull to you, well, that's fair: I can't get any of my friends to try the game because of how minimalistic it is. But again, I found that the minimalism only helped to emphasize the story of what's going on with the family and the house, which is incredibly touching if you can see it through to the end. (C'mon, the game is only about 3 hours long anyway!)

Overall: 9/10


Super Mario Odyssey

Much like the two Mario Galaxy games and the Mario 3D World game that preceded it, and much like Zelda: Breath of the Wild which came out in early 2017, this game shows what Nintendo is really like when it's at the top of its game. This is the newest addition of the lineage of 3D Super Mario games (That lineage being: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Super Mario 3D World).

And, much like Zelda BOTW, this game received critical acclaim, countless perfect scores from game reviewing sites, and countless Game of the Year nominations. All the creative energy of the Mario Galaxy games is still in place, on top of which they've added greatly improved graphics, dozens of optional costumes that Mario can wear (many of which reference dozens of different games in Mario's past), tons of throwbacks to the original Super Mario Bros for the NES, and a new "capture" mechanic that lets Mario possess and use the abilities of dozens of different creatures in the game, including almost all of the "classic" Mario enemies.

The game is separated into "Kingdoms" (stages) – and, new to the Mario series, one of these kingdoms is in an urban setting, called "New Donk City". This level is, in my opinion, easily the best level in the game – in no small part because of the many, many incredible references and callbacks to previous games, which are woven throughout the city in countless brilliant ways – some incredibly subtle, and others gloriously ostentatious.

It's not enough to knock 1996's Super Mario RPG out of my "all-time favorite Mario game" spot, but it's firmly planted in the upper echelon of Mario games.

Overall: 10/10

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

That time Paul Ryan actually bragged about his tax bill amounting to an extra $6 PER MONTH for public school employees

Believe it or not, neither the account nor the post are fake:


Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you Paul Ryan. One of the sleaziest, most corrupt, and most out-of-touch plutocratic weasels in the entire history of United States government.

He has since deleted his tweet.

Enjoy your breadcrumbs, Trump supporters.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

"But it’s who we are. It’s a blessing and a curse."



The leading portion of Andrew Sullivan's article in the New Yorker last Friday left me floored.

In his characteristically sober way, he goes through a litany of uncomfortable truths about gender that modern liberalism is struggling (and often failing) to adequately grapple with.

To see that someone I admire so much has come to so many of the same heterodox conclusions that my own life has led me to was a moment that was....difficult to put into words. It's like I'm an awkward piano chord, and this article was attempting to show people that there really are songs I sound good with.

Below is the article in its entirety. (I always just assume that publications like New Yorker don't give a shit about reposting like this. I always give the writers credit, and it's not like I blog for money or notoriety anyway.)

Anyway, I've highlighted in red what I consider to be the most resonant segments. There's a reason there are so many of them.




#MeToo and the Taboo Topic of Nature
By Andrew Sullivan

A long time ago now, I came rather abruptly face-to-face with what being a man means.

I don’t mean the gay thing. Figuring that out in the 1970s hadn’t been easy, but I’d never questioned my sex or my gender, whatever occasional taunts came my way. I mean the fact that, in the years of being HIV-positive, my testosterone levels had sunk, and I decided, given my lassitude, depression, and lack of sexual desire, to go on hormone replacement therapy to get me back in a healthy range for a 30-something male. It was a fascinating experience to witness maleness literally being injected into me, giving me in a sudden jump what had been there all along, and what I now saw and felt more vividly. You get a real sense of what being a man is from an experience like that, as the rush of energy, strength, clarity, ambition, drive, impatience and, above all, horniness overcame me every two weeks in the wake of my shot. It was intoxicating. I wrote about this a couple of decades ago, in an essay I called “The He Hormone.” The visceral experience opened my eyes to the sheer and immense natural difference between being a man and being a woman, and helped me understand better how nature is far more in control of us than we ever want to believe.

I mention this because in our increasingly heated debate about gender relations and the #MeToo movement, this natural reality — reflected in chromosomes and hormones no scientist disputes — is rarely discussed. It’s almost become taboo. You can spend a lifetime in gender studies and the subject will never come up. All differences between the sexes, we are now informed, are a function of the age-old oppression of women by men, of the “patriarchy” that enforces this subjugation, and of the power structures that mandate misogyny. All differences between the genders, we are told, are a function not of nature but of sexism. In fact, we are now informed by the latest generation of feminists, following the theories of Michel Foucault, that nature itself is a “social construction” designed by men to oppress women. It doesn’t actually exist. It’s merely another tool of male power and must be resisted.

This is, however, untrue. Even the newest generation of feminists concede this on the quiet. Although they will organize to shut down an entire magazine to prevent an airing of an alternative view of gender, they are not currently campaigning to shut down the Planet Earth series because it reveals that in almost every species, males and females behave differently — very differently — and there appears to be no “patriarchy” in place to bring this about at all. They know enough not to push their argument into places where it will seem to be, quite obviously, ridiculous. But it is strikingly obvious that for today’s progressives, humans are the sole species on this planet where gender differentiation has no clear basis in nature, science, evolution, or biology. This is where they are as hostile to Darwin as any creationist.

And this is stupid. The alternative explanation — that these core natural differences between men and women have been supplemented by centuries of conscious oppression — is staring us in the face. The fascinating conundrum is where one ends and the other begins. How much of this difference is natural and how much is social? That is the question. And the answer is a tricky one. Is the fact that the vast majority of construction workers are male and the huge majority of nurses are female a function of sexism or nature? Is male sexual aggression and horniness a function of patriarchy or testosterone? Is the fact that women now outnumber men among college graduates a function of reverse sexism or nature?

My suspicion is that it’s more about nature than about society, and one reason I believe this (apart from all the data) is because I’m gay. I live in a sexual and romantic world without women, where no patriarchy could definitionally exist, a subculture with hookups and relationships and marriages and every conceivable form of sexual desire that straight men and women experience as well. And you know what you find? That men behave no differently in sexual matters when there are no women involved at all. In fact, remove women, and you see male sexuality unleashed more fully, as men would naturally express it, if they could get away with it. It’s full of handsiness and groping and objectification and lust and aggression and passion and the ruthless pursuit of yet another conquest. And yes, I mean conquest. That’s what testosterone does. It’s also full of love, tenderness, compassion, jealousy, respect, dignity, and a need for security and a home. It’s men’s revenge on men. The old joke applies: What does a lesbian bring on a second date? A U-Haul. What does a gay man bring on a second date? What second date?

I know this must be a pain in the neck for most women. But it’s who we are. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s called being male, this strange creature, covered in hair, pinioned between morality and hormones, governed by two brains, one above and one below. We can and should be restrained, tamed, kept under control. But nature will not be eradicated. And when left-feminism denies nature’s power, ignores testosterone, and sees all this behavior as a function entirely of structural patriarchal oppression, it is going to overreach. It is going to misunderstand. And it is going to alienate a lot of people. If most men are told that what they are deep down is, in fact, “problematic” if not “toxic,” they are going to get defensive, and with good reason. And they are going to react. So, by the way, are the countless women who do not see this kind of masculinity as toxic, who want men to be different, who are, in fact, deeply attracted to the core aggression of the human male, and contemptuous of the latest orthodoxy from Brooklyn.

And men, especially young men in this environment, will begin to ask questions about why they are now routinely seen as a “problem,” and why their sex lives are now fair game for any journalist. And because our dialogue is now so constrained, and the fact of natural sexual differences so actively suppressed by the academy and the mainstream media, they will find the truths about nature in other contexts. They will stumble across alt-right websites that deploy these truths to foment an equal and opposite form of ideology, soaked in actual misogyny, and become convinced that every sexual interaction is a zero-sum battlefield. They will see this as a war between the genders, not as a way to advance the freedom of both. They will fight back, and in this tribalized culture, the conflict will intensify. Suppress debate, ban ideas from civil conversation, and you won’t abolish these ideas. You will hand them to the worst bigots and give them credibility.

This week, in the New York Times, Tom Edsall bravely exposed the politics of this. He looked at the data and found, believe it or not, that gender-studies feminism is not shared by all women by any means, and is increasingly loathed by men — and not just older men. “2016 saw the greatest number of votes cast by young white men in the past 12 years — markedly higher than their female counterparts,” says Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, a psychologist at Tufts. Their support for the Democratic nominee dropped by 15 points from 2008 to 2016. Edsall reports that “a Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey found that a bare majority (51 percent) of Democrats believes that calling out sexism is typically justified and not designed to shut off discussion. In sharp contrast, Ekins wrote, about three-fourths (76 percent) of Republicans and two-thirds (65 percent) of independents believe it’s primarily used as a tool to stifle debate.” Two-thirds of Independents now suspect the sincerity of most claims of sexism. Congrats, Brooklyn. Other polls show a declining support for core feminist principles among high-school seniors in the last decade. When I stumble across young male Trump supporters — and there are plenty of gay men among them — this is what they point to. They are defending their core being from left-feminist assault. Insofar as they are pushing back against the latest wave of feminist misandry, I’m not without some sympathy.

Trump understands this dynamic intuitively. Bannon believed it was integral to the Trump project, and wants the slanted elite discourse on men to continue and intensify. I think this issue was an under-acknowledged cause for Clinton’s failure. At some point, Democrats and liberals are going to have to decide if they want to “problematize” half the voting population. They are going to have to figure out who they really side with: Brooklyn or much of America? Reality or an ideology? Both genders or one?