Dec 30, 2011
* We did our best to promote Goblin Camp, with a let's play kind of thing and a bunch of other posts. The game is still a going concern, and although there hasn't been an update for a while, I'm assured there will be. Eventually. Back in February, I put together really epic camp. The website is here; if you haven't tried it, do.
* There was an election in Finland, that led to no noticeable changes in Finnish politics. We have some really good-looking athletes, though.
* They killed 'Usāmah; I was skeptical about that being the death-blow to terrorism. Sadly, terrorism took a different turn shortly thereafter with the senseless attacks in Norway, the background to which we discussed. Steve Jobs also passed away, and we felt that his eulogies went too far.
* Throughout the year, we were alarmed by the police, as despite the death of "Osama", new threats to our precious bodily fluids continued to emerge. To combat these, we got everything from American police UAVs and the German police going all Gestapo on the German Pirate Party to the Finnish police hacking your phone. I also lost faith in Radley Balko, of The Agitator, for hithcing up with the Kremlin's propaganda machine, and my post on the topic inspired a TV show host to discuss my underwear.
* There was a lot of Minecraft. At the beginning of the year, I was still hanging around Epic Island, and we were impressed by music. We also weighed in on the Mojang - Zenimax legal battle.
* Apart from Minecraft, we liked Harms Way, but were disappointed by Mass Effect 2 being a sexist white supremacist game and by EA's various antics. The future looked bleak. In other media, we liked Detroit 1-8-7 and Sucker Punch, as well as the fantastic Robot.
* We all enjoyed some excellent music!
* Some memes were participated in, and scientology was addressed. We also started a series of posts on the Bible.
* There was, of course, a lot of hockey. At the very beginning of the year, the wrong guy was made MVP of the World Juniors, and later on Winnipeg got an NHL team. Sadly, our favorite NHL player called it quits. However, there were the world champs. In my preview, I had a good feeling about Team Finland, and even though Mats Sundin assured us it was impossible, Finland actually won. We were a little disappointed by the overblown coverage given to one particular goal, though.
Sadly, in the words of Jonathan Toews, the summer of 2011 was the worst ever for hockey. Not only did three NHL players pass away during the summer, but the plane carrying the KHL's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crashed, killing the whole team. Earlier this month, the New York Times published a series of stories on Derek Boogaard, an NHL enforcer who died last summer. I highly recommend reading them.
Maybe that's a bit of a sad note to end this post on, but as the new year comes around, it won't hurt to take a moment to remember those who aren't around to see it happen. Having said that, though, I'd like to thank everyone who read this sorry excuse for a blag over the past year, and wish you all a happy new year! See you in 2012.
Dec 26, 2011
Her name is Fatima Adib, and like Batroc the Leaper and me, her martial art of choice is savate, in which she won the 2008 European Championship in her weight class. I ran into a picture of her while image searching "savate", so that's all I know. Isn't she cute?
And now, Minecraft. I complained earlier about the endermen in Beta 1.8, who would pick up blocks, including bedrock. While I was strongly tempted by the idea of putting out all the lights in my pit and seeing if the endermen would really dig a hole through the bedrock, I decided the smart thing to do is run away before endermen break all my stuff. So that's what I did.
There's my first tower on the right, and the new tower on the left, flanking the rising sun. After spending most of the day walking west, I found a nice little cubbyhole with a small coal deposit in it, and decided to spend my first night there:
Turns out good old Mount Impossible, which I first visited ages ago, is just around the corner:
It's an NPC village!
Next up: my home away from home, and proof that the Endermen really are terrorists.
Dec 23, 2011
Speaking of history, by the way, here's some. Enjoy.
Read more on Wikipedia, if you're interested. Happy Yule, everybody!
Dec 21, 2011
Dec 19, 2011
Blood Bowl: Playing Cyanide's Blood Bowl is the most fun I've ever had with such a hideously badly made game. It's ugly, the interface is clunky, there are bugs galore and the overall quality is just appalling. While PC users got the "Legendary Edition" featuring all the teams from LRB5 except Chaos Dwarves (?!!), XBox players have to make do with only eight teams, but can download Dark Elves for Microsoft points. The AI, of course, is mind-bogglingly stupid, and you can't compensate for that by playing online as apparently that just doesn't work.
Even though the game is basically rubbish, and in places insultingly badly made, it's still damn good fun. There's some kind of real-time mode that I've never tried, because the basic game simply is Blood Bowl, and it delivers. Somehow the game is enjoyable enough that despite all its flaws, I like playing it. I'd say it's definitely worth picking up on the cheap.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Around here, you can get this for something like 10e or less. Do, because although the single player campaigns are fairly short, they're great fun. For the ridiculously low price this is retailing for, it's great value for money.
F1 2010: Be clever and pick up the previous edition for cheap instead of dishing out an obscene 70e or whatever new games are being sold for these days. This is an awesome game. There are realism and difficulty settings that let you customize the driving experience, and you get to work on the car set-ups just enough to keep an F1 fan happy. When you turn everything up to as high a level of realism as you can handle, driving even a half-length Grand Prix is an awesome experience. I highly recommend it. The game makes you feel like you're driving an F1 car, and really, that's all you need.
Batman: Arkham Asylum: Now that Batman: Arkham City is out, do yourself a favor and pick up its excellent predecessor. The best superhero game by miles since that one decent Spider-Man game for the old XBox.
Space Marine: I may do a proper review of this yet, but for now, I'll just say that it apparently did poorly, like all GW games tend to, and is available on the cheap. It's definitely worth getting at a reduced price: if Gears of War was fun, it would be Space Marine. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
I think that's about it. If you want more game reviews, read Arcadian Rhythms.
Dec 13, 2011
Dec 12, 2011
We already mentioned McLaren's ridiculous hypocrisy about team orders last year, citing the 2008 German Grand Prix, where then-McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen was ordered to let Lewis Hamilton pass him. Hamilton won the title that year, and in 2010, told the BBC that there are no team orders at McLaren, and:
"I personally would not want to win the championship other than by winning it fairly."
Hamilton won the 2008 world championship by one point. Arguably, had Heikki not let him past at Hockenheim, he wouldn't have won that race, and that might have cost him the championship. There is, of course, the additional matter of the incident at Singapore; had the results been amended and Alonso disqualified, as he should have been, Massa would be world champion.
I don't generally like these kinds of what ifs, but I like hypocrisy even less. So given that Lewis's championship stands on the Singapore incident and the team order at Hockenheim, we're still waiting for him to relinquish his world championship.
Another excellent candidate would be Milan Lucic, whom I've previously maligned on this blog. Earlier this fall, he hit Sabres goaltender and reigning Olympic MVP Ryan Miller, who's been out since with a concussion.
Lucic still isn't much of a tough guy. While visiting NESN, Don Cherry called Milan Lucic "a disgrace to the Bruins" for hiding behind the linesmen in a fight:
It's priceless how uncomfortable Mike Milbury is. Last season, Lucic punched Atlanta's Freddy Meyer while he was being restrained by a linesman, keeping up the trend. In addition to being a dirty player in general and having been suspended by the league before, Lucic deliberately hit Miller and only got a two-minute penalty for charging. There's fairly wide consensus that he sohuld have got a five-minute major and a suspension, but NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan dropped the ball and, incredibly, said he believed Lucic's ridiculous lie that he didn't hit Miller on purpose.
As TSN's Dave Hodge said, "in the end, it was easier for Lucic to avoid a suspension than to avoid Miller because he tried to avoid a suspension." Because of his behavior in general and the incredible hypocrisy of claiming he tried to avoid Miller, it would be tempting to give this one to Lucic.
Neither of them, however, win the award this year. In fact, this year the Brooks Orpik Hypocrisy Award returns to its roots in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And we're going after the cigarette-smoking Next One himself.
Over the past year, no single instance of ridiculous hypocrisy has struck us as more over-the-top and sanctimonious than Mario Lemieux's diatribe against fighting. You can read the whole thing here. He was supposedly so disgusted that the New York Islanders got into fights with his Pittsburgh Penguins that he contemplated leaving hockey. This from the man whose organization employs one of the dirtiest players in the NHL, Matt Cooke, and the guy whose back-breaking antics brought about this very award. Also, his team was tied for second place for most fighting majors in the NHL regular season that year. So apparently, in Super Mario's books, his team gets to fight as much as they like and go headhunting for their opponents' stars, but when others do it, it makes Baby Mario cry. Disgusting.
So the runaway winner this year is Mario Lemieux, of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Brooks Orpik Hypocrisy Award is given by the writers of this blog to the athlete who makes the most preposterously hypocritical comment of the year.
2010 - Lewis Hamilton, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, F1
2009 - Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL
Dec 9, 2011
With that in mind, I was interested when Ms. Dzodan posted another text, this time on moderating comments: The troll is dead! Foxnewsification and the notion that all points of view are valuable. Again, I think that text makes several very good points:
I would venture that the internet troll took the first deathly blow in 2001 when hateful anti Islamic rhetoric became acceptable in most media. What was once brushed off as “trolling” became the standard. We saw the incendiary language get worse every day, certain slurs that were usually reserved for the back rooms of hateful sites repeated on news hours, commenting sections of news sites, blogs, etc. Any challenge to this bigotry used to be met with a chorus of “FREEDOM OF SPEECH!” utterances. As if every form of speech deserved a platform everywhere, as if it was the obligation of site moderators to allow any content without critical thinking. As if all content was equal.
As someone who runs two blogs whose comments sections are moderated, I wholeheartedly agree. I get my share of personal attacks, and judging from the behavior of one of my Pirate Party comrades in the social media recently, I made him very angry indeed when I refused to publish a series of long-winded comments he left on a piece in my Finnish-language blog. There was a simple reason for that decision: he offered no counter-arguments to what I wrote, except to claim either that I was lying or that I was expounding "feminist lies" and being irrational. That isn't a counterargument, that's a personal attack, and I'm under no obligation to publish those. My blogs aren't a discussion forum. The reason I moderate comments at all is because when I started writing about immigration and racism, my blogs started to overflow with nearly identical ideological commentary, mostly consisting of personal attacks and trolling, from Finland's organized racists and their "useful idiots". So I basically agree with Ms. Dzodan: not all points of view need to be aired on every forum.
However, because my comment had just been rejected on her blog, I approached Ms. Dzodan's piece a little more skeptically than I might otherwise have. In her lead-in, when she describes the kind of objectionable contents Tiger Beatdown receives, here's what she lists:
However, MatrixMansplainer is not alone. We got a whole bunch of them on the Black Pete post. People who would accuse me of racism against Dutch people; those who would inform me that I should fuck off to whichever hellhole I came from; those who would write 800+ word comments explaining the many ways I was wrong; privilege deniers; garden variety White supremacists; rape threatening dudes.
Wait a minute. Racism, white supremacism, threats of rape and... disagreeing at length?
She then goes on to compare comments like this (racist, violent and, um, long) directly to violence:
We created “safe spaces” with varying degrees of editorial control. However, I have to wonder why are not all news sites and major blogs made “safe”? If in any other environment, people felt systematically unsafe, we would demand immediate change and measures of protection. If a club, a venue, a public space allowed people to be subjected to violence without actually taking counter measures, such places would most likely be shut down due to public outcry. However, this is what our media does.
She then quotes a comments policy from another site, and I totally agree with the quote:
A variety of points of view is all to the good, but a mere opinion not backed up by facts, reasoning or analysis is unlikely to get through. Moreover, not all points of view are valuable.
And goes on:
“Not all points of view are valuable”. This needs to be repeated. Any point of view that actively seeks to alienate, oppress or bully someone does not deserve to be exposed.
I'd be totally okay with this, if only my comment hadn't been left unpublished and my counterargument been ignored. I've re-read it, and for the life of me, I can't figure out where I was seeking to alienate, oppress or bully anyone. If there's any uncertainty on this, I can say that I certainly wasn't trying to do any of those things.
All this puts a slightly new spin on something Ms. Dzodan said in the comments section to the post I was trying to comment on:
For this one piece, I’ll make one thing clear: I am not going to approve any comments that base their critique on the idea that I am speaking out of “ignorance” and that I have no clue of what I am talking about.
It is fine to disagree with me, but to pretend that you (generic you), as a commenter, hold the truth and I am misguided and ignorant is a form of violence.
So wait: if I think that on a given, specific topic, I'm right and Ms. Dzodan is wrong, then I'm committing a form of violence? And therefore, my viewpoint is one that doesn't deserve to be exposed? I'll be frank: I'm very ignorant on a large number of topics, and for almost all of those, there are people out there much, much better informed than I am. Therefore, when discussing one of those topics, it may in fact be true that I'm misguided and ignorant and the person I'm speaking to holds the truth. It's certainly happened to me! But it seems it, a priori, can't happen to Ms. Dzodan.
Do you really believe that disagreement is violence? Really?
The logical outcome of this, for Ms. Dzodan and her co-moderators, seems to be that no comments that disagree with her will be allowed. That isn't creating a safe space, that's creating a political echo chamber where only the like-minded are allowed to speak. Disturbingly, that's what the comments sections of Tiger Beatdown increasingly resemble: a dozen or two iterations of "Good post!", and no content. Certainly no disagreement, informed or otherwise.
That's a very depressing comments policy. Luckily, Ms. Dzodan offers those of us who have our comments deleted some advice:
One would expect that this MatrixMansplainer would have realized, after so many weeks, that his comments are not welcome since I have systematically trashed them.
I suppose I'll realize that, then.
Dec 5, 2011
This is a little hard for me, because Jenny McCarthy has a place in my heart. She's the first woman whose pictures I remember searching for on the Internet. It wasn't called googling then, because Google didn't exist yet. One particular picture from one of her Playboy shoots, which I can't post here but features her in a bath, is actually the first piece of pornography I ever remember seeing. So in my books, she's really hot.
So I was troubled, to say the least, to learn that she'd taken up the cause of Andrew Wakefield. As near as I can tell, Wakefield is a fraud, who was struck off the UK medical register for dishonest and irresponsible conduct. To make a long story short, he fabricated research results to prove that a vaccine was causing autism in children, planning to make millions from related patents he held. Unfortunately for him, the hoax was blown.
Unfortunately for the rest of the world, he's managed to attract a rabid, cult-like following. Finnish readers can avail themselves of an excellent text on the topic, and English readers can consult the New York Times, who give us this soundbite:
Andrew Wakefield has become one of the most reviled doctors of his generation, blamed directly and indirectly, depending on the accuser, for irresponsibly starting a panic with tragic repercussions: vaccination rates so low that childhood diseases once all but eradicated here — whooping cough and measles, among them — have re-emerged, endangering young lives.
Wakefield has almost single-handedly revived the anti-vaccination movement. He and other anti-vaccination propagandists have managed to cause several moral panics against vaccinations, all of which have led to significant health problems. It's ironic that these anti-vaccination campaigns are providing us with some of the clearest evidence of the efficacy of vaccines. Similar concerns were raised earlier this year over Michele Bachmann's moronic comments on the HPV vaccine.
Despite this, Wakefield has created an anti-vaccination cult. Here's the New York Times again:
“To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one,” says J. B. Handley, co-founder of Generation Rescue, a group that disputes vaccine safety. “He’s a symbol of how all of us feel.”
Since losing his medical license, Wakefield has depended on his followers for financing and for the emotional scaffolding that allows him to believe himself a truth-teller when the majority of his peers consider him a menace to medicine. The fact that his fans have stood by him through his denunciation may seem surprising, but they may find it easier to ignore his critics than to reject their faith in him. After all, his is a rare voice of certainty in the face of a disease that is, at its core, mysterious.
My impression of Wakefield is that he's a ruthless profiteer exploiting the distress of parents who have autistic children. I use the word "cult" advisedly, because from where I'm standing, Wakefield is behaving like a classic cult leader. It's interesting to note that the journalist who led the way in exposing him as a fraud disagrees.
You could read Deer’s collected body of research on Wakefield and come away with the conviction that Wakefield was an underhanded profiteer who exploited parents and abused their disabled children with invasive tests for the sole purpose of capitalizing on parents’ fears about the M.M.R. vaccine. (He applied, for example, for a patent for a diagnostic kit that could test for measles virus in the intestines.) But Deer does not think Wakefield was solely motivated by profit. He compares him to the kind of religious leader who is a true believer but relies on the occasional use of smoke and mirrors to goose the faith of his followers. “He believed it was true,” Deer says of Wakefield’s theory of M.M.R., but he was also willing to stretch the truth to get more financing for more research. Deer theorizes that Wakefield’s maneuverings were all rationalized by his conviction that he was right: “He would prove it next time.”
Crusading academic or medical cult supremo, what's unquestionable is that Wakefield's stand on autism isn't currently supported by science. He's taken the conspiracy theory route, claiming that his detractors slander him, falsify research results and even lie about non-vaccinated children's deaths to discredit him because they're in the pay of a giant conspiracy by the medical industry. As Cracked.com has noted, pharmaceutical companies are one of the most popular "evil corporation" strawmen out there today. Even if that weren't the case, believing Wakefield's conspiracy theory requires the same leap of faith that all of this "the truth is being suppressed" nonsense demands: taking the word of one discredited researcher and his personal following over just about everyone else who's ever studied the topic. Sorry, Mr. Wakefield.
The foreword to Wakefield's book Callous Disregard was written by Jenny McCarthy, who's been very active in promoting Wakefield's views in the US.
McCarthy claims that her son had autism, but was cured by chelation therapy, a medical procedure that removes heavy metals from the body. Hockey fans might remember a goalie called Steve Passmore, who had chelation therapy to overcome severe heavy metal poisoning he had from drinking contaminated well water as a kid.
It's been claimed that mercury poisoning can trigger autism, although the scientific consensus is that this is untrue. Some experts have speculated that McCarthy's child may well have had Landau-Kleffner syndrome, a rare childhood consition often misdiagnosed as autism. Certainly McCarthy's claim that chelation therapy cured her son of autism flies in the face of medical science. In fact, chelation therapy is actually dangerous if used on patients who don't have heavy metal poisoning; it can cause hypocalcaemia; one 5-year-old autistic boy was killed by chelation therapy through hypocalcemia.
Despite the scientific evidence, McCarthy continues to promote the link between autism and vaccines. Her activities earned her James Randi's Pigasus Award for "the performer who fools the greatest number of people with the least effort in that twelve-month period". Earlier this year, Salon.com called her "a menace", and given that her continuing anti-vaccination campaigning is clearly having a detrimental effect on public health, it's hard to disagree.
McCarthy is unfazed. As recently as this past January, she defended her stance in a column for the Huffington Post, in which she claimed the decisive debunking of Wakefield's work was "one dubious reporter's allegations", and appealed to her authority as a mother. In her worldview, her conviction that her knowledge as a mother, and the determination of innumerable parents of autistic children to find someone to blame for their child's condition, trumps medical research. That's a truly monstrous idea.
So you see my problem. I think she's gorgeous, and I remember seeing her smoking hot Playboy pictorial at an impressionable age, but she really is a menace to children's health care. I don't imagine that what I post in this blog makes the least bit of difference to how the world works, but as a point of personal ethics, I'd feel it would be wrong of me to post pictures of her online without saying something about her misguided, downright dangerous personal crusade against science. She's wrong, and should realize that what she's doing is hurting and even killing children by persuading their parents to leave them unvaccinated.
She's still hot. I just wish she'd actually think about the children, and maybe a little about science. Then I could enjoy pictures like this one with a clear conscience.