Friday, May 28, 2010

Fetishist Morality Play

I got into a conversation today about various things I felt was wrong with society. Among these is how we treat children. Children are caught up in this grand conspiracy where parents mislead and hide things from kids in order to protect them. One consequence of this is, I think, a very misguided and skewed view of sex and morality.

It is often said that pornography and erotic material produces such a view, and as much as I like a lot of pornography and erotic material, I have to agree. There is someone who I met on IRC who goes by the name of NovaYoshi who somehow got into the furry fandom as a teenager and seems to have acquired more fetishes then I probably care to list. His stories would probably horrify a majority of people with there utter perverseness (or bore them with their nerdyness, he is also heavily into programing for old systems in ASM). The thing is though, none of these fetishes, as perverse as they may be are actually really that wrong, but the thing that worried me at first was how he would tend to force people on IRC into things.

Even though it's fantasy, the fact that a good deal of erotic material invoves some sort of force or even all out rape is too wide spread to ignore. On the whole, for a lot of people it's harmless and just a fantasy, but I because of how people are exposed to it and how very little is done to prepare children for it, a lot of young people don't really see the ethical implications of it. Bondage for example, and master/slave play is everywhere on the net, even in sites like Gaia Online, which is intended more for teens. And once again, in a normal situation, this would be fine, but when someone young is exposed to it before any type of grounded ethical ideas, it becomes something more sinister.

I have noticed however, a lot of people will realize the implications if they are pointed out. For example, I used to use Jiggles in RPs a lot, but when involved in a questionable situation, she will explain in simple moral and ethical terms what exactly she thinks is wrong. A bit Anvilicious perhaps, but Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped. The problem is, a lot of the erotic stories out there ignore any ethics or moral implications of things. After all, this is fantasy right? And that's all fine and good, but people without a good moral or ethical framework simply get ideas form these stories and run with them, usually not stopping to think about right and wrong. The same may be said with violence in the media: It's not that violence exists, it's that young people who encounter it are not introduced properly to it's downside. At least in violence, some people are willing to address this issue, with sex however, everything is hidden, put in dark little rooms and secret corners, and when young people find it they have no experience to go on because everything has focused on hiding it away from sight.

I brought up some old erotic Anne Rice novels to illustrate that point. I never read them, I just saw a review on them online so I was slightly surprised when the woman I was talking too actually sort of defended them saying they were about teaching the royalty and rulers of a society discipline and self-control, and sex was just a method. So it is some sort of point I guess, but I don't think it's a very good one. So to that statement, I thought I would give what Jiggles' response to that would be:

"It may be true that leaders should have self-control, but it is wrong to force people this way! You can't just punish a person and force them to see everyone as an equal, even if you succeed it hurts people and makes them like slaves. It may give them self-control, but I think in the process it hurts the thing that makes them unique and their self-respect. That's not real equality! I think people can get along and learn control themselves if they are motivated to, and that's why friendship and love are important. Isn't it better to have people want to come together because they respect each other rather then because they don't respect themselves? I know people can be selfish and they have their disagreements, but I believe people can work together beyond that if they try! I don't know much about royalty and leadership, but I think the best leader is the one who loves and stands by people because they truly care, not someone who is forced to repress everything and is molded into a leader through discipline."

Yeah, I know, she is a bit of a love-freak, but hey, she is based on an anime cliché. :P

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Watch it, filibuster!

I have noticed that often when I argue with someone I tend to use a lot of abstract sweeping philosophy to justify my behavior. I did it today when arguing about my living situation with someone, and I did it in an old argument I was reading that I had with my brother that I won't link to here because it's dumb. So there. It's not generally a good stratagy to use really, because it's often blatant rationalizing of bad behavior and I know it, the person I am arguing with knows it, and anyone else that might be involved knows it. But at the same time, I feel I must at times at least attempt to explain why I am often not willing to change my behavior.

What it all comes down to really is three things. First, I absolutely refuse to accept any sort of moral high-ground or status quo based argument. Ethics I will accept, provided the argument can be made that clearly shows why my action will directly be unethical. Second, I don't take kindly to regulation for regulation's sake, or to pointless bureaucratic shuffling. I will generally follow rules if I see direct immediate consequence or if I feel doing so would be for my best interest or not doing so would be a clear breach of ethics. Third, I will usually do the minimum I feel I need to do, and generally no more then that, unless I feel fulfilled in doing so. If there is a task I feel is unnecessary, I won't do it.

The underlining reason I keep using for these three things is the same. I believe, and see more evidence of each day, that society and government is oppressive, and generally it is because people LET it become oppressive. In every brutal directorship in history and today, it is the people who choose that it's better to lie low then to speak out, to brutalize and march into battle, to stay and not flee. I realize though, both many people don't see it until it is too late, and many people have reason to fear for friends and family if they act. I also realize that brutal directorship and people telling me I should get a job or clean up better is not at all the same thing. It's just that, for me, it's simply not that easy. I simply can't get up and go to a normal job without, frankly, spending far too much effort then I am willing to. I simply can't tidy up without it feeling like I am pulling my own teeth. And yes, that doesn't mean I CAN'T do both those things, It doesn't even mean I WON'T do both those things if I feel I should, it just means I don't feel obligated to do it upon request.

And yes, it is sort of an excuse, but frankly, there is only so much I am willing to put up with and that amount is slipping more and more. I think I am better then I was at least, but I am usually tired and having my sleep breathing device thingy taken away doesn't help, but I didn't use it as much as I should have so eh. The thing is, even though my general outlook and philosophy is mostly positive, I really have very drive for self-preservation. If worse comes to worse, I may just give up on the whole thing. I would never commit suicide and I would never stop hoping for a brighter tomorrow, but I may decide to withdraw myself and give up on today. I am not at that point yet though.

Also: I got WarioWare DIY a few days ago because some online friends recommended it, and while not perfect (only type of interaction is tapping things for example) it still is quite fun to play around with. I wanted to write a whole blog post on it and the series, but I desided to do this one instead. Next time maybe.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Who's the boss?

So, I stumbled across a video showing the boss fights in the original Metroid. I never really played the first Metriod to any real extent, but I always thought that, as far as bosses go, the first Metroid didn't have much. Ridley and Kraid are little more then common enemies with extra health and Mother Brain is more of a level segment then a fight (although I do think it is nice to see a boss of that kind every once and a while). They would be drastically improved when they returned in squeals and the remake, but here they are rather lame.

The thing is though, I think a lot of old games are guilty of this kind of thing. Bowser in the first Super Mario Bros was the same way -- little more then a upgraded normal enemy then a boss. But then you have to think, what separates a boss from a normal enemy in my mind anyway? It isn't just that they are bigger and stronger then a normal enemy, nor is it that they play diffrent music and are unique.

For me, the games that really set the stage for what bosses in games mean to me, were the Megaman series. In Mega Man, there are generally two kinds of "bosses", the robot master bosses and the fortress bosses, or more formally duel-type bosses and monster-type bosses. In duel-type boss battles, you face an enemy that is fairly evenly matched in terms of size and ability and the player must outmaneuver and/or outsmart the boss.

Duel-type bosses often move and fire based on a pattern and have moves and abilities that are part of that pattern. The battle then becomes adapting to a pattern and exploiting it. The pattern can be simple and/or never change, or complex and alter it's self to different situations, but it is always there. Duel-type boss battles become like delicate waltzes where rhythm and steps are important, and where missteps can have costly consequences. On the other hand, once you get the pattern, it becomes easy. Too easy sometimes.

Monster-type boss battles on the other hand, feature bosses that are much larger and arguably more powerful then the player, but they all feature some crippling weakness that you must find. Monster-type bosses usually assault you with a number of powerful attacks that are more often then not just randomly chosen from a list and thrown about with little strategy or planing. The attacks are powerful but usually only target particular places and can be avoided easily if you keep on your toes. Pattern is less important in monster-type battles, but still comes in to play to frequently to ignore. Instead, it becomes much more important to learn the placement of things rather then the pattern of the boss's moves, and to watch for cues to when to move. Monster-type bosses are usually slow, and announce their attacks far more. Victory becomes more a game of watching and waiting, of calculating every strike and every action, of observing visual cues and watching for a moment of weakness when you can attack. Miscalculating can have as costly or more costly consequences then messing up a pattern in a duel-type boss. But once you know what to watch for and where to step it also becomes fairly easy.

I am not sure if Mega Man really started the trend, but since the Mega Man series became popular almost all game bosses fall under these two types (though more do monster-type then duel-type, which I think is sort of a shame as duel-type fights can be a lot more fun to play) or some combination of the two. Early games where bosses were just harder enemies are mostly a thing of the past. Every once and a while a new types come to play, like puzzle-type (where you solve a puzzle or mini-game to beat a boss), endurance-type (where the boss just beats the crap out of you and you just have to survive, either to a time limit, or often in RPGs, to widdle the HP away and hope your items don't run out), or chase-type (where you either have to chase and catch up to a boss, or are being chased by a boss and have to outrun it). They all share the same theme though: A unique challenge personified by an opponent that has to be overcome.

I wonder though, when and why did games and gamers (me included) become so obsessed with bosses? I hear so much stuff about bosses in games, especially on youtube. So many videos about boss music, "teh best boss EVAR", scary bosses, hard bosses, messed up bosses, etc. Bosses are such a cornerstone of games, and whole games have been made with nothing BUT bosses. The concept of a boss is even something you only ever really see in games. Battles in movies or books are almost never set up as boss battles, and villains in movies and books don't even really need to be attacked and killed directly. I guess it doesn't matter really. There have been games, very good games, some even with rich storylines and characters, that have had no bosses at all. Like Ultima VI, a rpg about a war between two races where, for once, you DIDN'T just slaughter the "bad guys" to solve the world's problems.

I do plan to have bosses in my hack at some point, but most of them are more for fun or for storyline reasons then anything else. Oh well, as long as you have a boss in mind, might as well put it in right?

Monday, May 10, 2010

I turn 31 in a few months



Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Today I was browsing the net when suddenly Google looked different. The search bar had big ugly black text, the buttons also had big ugly text, and the text on the search bar was misaligned. I thought I had accidentally enabled something that made the text bigger and the whole layout was out of wack, but no. No, this was actually on purpose. Surly, I thought, there must be some option to turn it back to normal, but no, there isn't. Even though on my Linux computer with Firefox it looks as it should so the old style sheet must exist somewhere. This isn't the first time this has happened recently, Youtube also decided to change their layout to something god-awful without any way to change back. Before that they did a lesser version with their channel pages which I still refused to use because it's ugly and slow.

The thing is, looking through comments and statements about the changes it is clear 90% of the people hate it. Honestly yes, most of it could be "They Changed It Now It Sucks" kicking in, but it's still ugly to me and there is no way I can see to change it back. It's funny because alternative style sheets have been in the CSS spec since day one as far as I know, and like only one or two sites actually use it... probably mostly because so few uses realize it exists. I doubt very much Google or Youtube (which is owned by Google) is going to do anything about it, no matter how much people complain.

There is a unwritten rule on the net that the more popular a site is, the shitter it's layout is. This was true for myspace, facebook, maybe deviantart, etc. This is the main reason I avoid them (well, that and myspace and facebook being filled with stupid morons). Until recently, google (and youtube, mostly) has been immune. Unfortunately Google got hold of the "attempt to pretty things up and just make them more ugly" bug. Google's charm and it's key asset has always been simplicity, but now they just took a big dump on that. I mean, sure, I worked hard on this blog and like the fancy style stuff I have done, but this is a blog, and I clearly wouldn't use this type of layout for anything even approaching actual utility in the way Google does. Google is not an art project, it is not meant to have anything but basic style elements.

Luckily there is hope. Firefox plugins like Stylish and some sites and services let you completely bypass the crummy layout and replace it with one of your choice. I am a little concerned that Stylish will slowdown my laptop, and a little reluctant to use less reliable third party sites for searching and videos (though Google custom search might work in that regard), but I may have to use this if Google doesn't get it's act together right now.

But until that happens I have one thing to say:
(although that's more HTML rage, marquee CSS isn't supported in browsers yet.)

Edit: Looks like the font on the text input field was fixed, so that's good. Still don't like the new look in general though.

Edit edit: Upon reflection, the text input field is misaligned only on my laptop. Must be because my laptop and desktop have different fonts installed or something.