In this interview, Mr. Kurt Vonnegut
lays it down in a way so perfectly said:
To say somebody is a [psychopathic personality, or “PPs.”] is to make a perfectly respectable medical diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete'foot. The classic medical text on PPs is The Mask of Sanity by Dr. Hervey Cleckley. Read it! PPs are presentable, they know full well the suffering their actions may cause others, but they do not care. They cannot care because they are nuts. They have a screw loose!Emphasis mine, as they say.
And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country, and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them? And so many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick.
What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!
Those wacky conspiracy theorists over at Fortune Magazine are puzzled as to why the Chariman of the Commision to Investigate 9/11 has financial ties to the Bin-Laden family and individuals who are strongly suspected of materially supporting terrorists.
Of course, Fortune seemed less concerned that Thomas Kean is also a former oil comany executive (like everyone else in the Bush administration it seems), but I guess someone else can harp on that.
A post on the elder scrolls message board (racism in morrowind) got me thinking about a topic I haven't visited in a while, racism in roleplaying games-on both pen & paper and computers.
the original post by Stop Crashing:
Why does the "black" reguard race have higher strength, agility and speed while the "British" Breton race have higher willpower, intelligence and generally a greater mental capacity? Put more thought into this next time developers!
Actually, Stop Crashing has a point--although it's not necessarily something to make signs and picket Bethesda about. RPGs and racism are intimately intertwined... as a matter of fact, racism is often a core mechanic of RPGs.
The first question is what is racism? Racism, or racialism is "the theory that distinctive human characteristics and abilities are determined by race," (OED, 2nd Ed.) which should not be confused with bigotry ("a judgement formed before due examination or consideration; a premature or hasty judgement; a prejudgement." OED, 2nd Ed.).
If racism is defined as "the theory that distinctive human characteristics and abilities are determined by race," then many RPGs are demonstrably racist... especially ones that use multiple types of humans (e.g. Bretons, Imperials, Redguard, Nords). I argue that the proper term for elves, dwarves and other non-humans is species and not race, but I suppose that in a fantasy milieu with multiple tool-using bipedal species the definition of racism could be altered to "the theory that distinctive humanoid characteristics and abilities are determined by race."
Why is this important? An easy, if somewhat intellectually shallow reaction to the above would be "so what? it's just a game! it's not real!" has a certain amount of validity, except that these games are a part of the life of many people who also belong to a culture that has unfortunatly been so intertwined with racist theories and attitudes that it can be difficult to distinguish how pervasive they are.
It is my personal belief that every small and otherwise harmless bit of racism keeps the larger uglier fires of bigotry and hated burning. Everytime it's ok to assert that "blacks dance better than whites" allows the ideological space for that harmless thought's ugly brother "whites are smarter, better and more valuable than blacks" to continue. Therefore it is important, if one is inclined to rid the world of bigotry that they make the small and suprisingly easy decision not to buy in to any racist theory.
And getting back to Stop Crashing's point... there is a long history of European belief that it is the European that is the intellectual superior of the world, and that the lesser (non-Europeans) are brutes. So to write a world where Bretons (the Brits -- and to answer an earlier criticism, the word Breton is related to British) and Imerials (Romans) are in control (and the British are the smarties) over darker peoples and viking brutes does smack of racism...
My question to SC would be...isn't it valid to remake the world under a veil, so that you can draw attention to issues of the real world without raising the emotional ire of your players? As far as I could tell, there were many oportunities to see slavery and prejudice in action...just in an alien setting. I guess my point is, that although the use of a characters "race" is unfortunate, I think you can depict a terrible world or terrible things without being a terrible author.
I've gone on long enough, I think.
-- Originally posted at: Elder Scrolls Forums
The question in the final analysis is whether or not the racism in the game is assumptive (inherent in the game mechanic, and therefore a product of racist ideology) or descriptive (a part of the game's universe, presented either sub- or objectively). In the end, Morrowind has both types... a moral subplot regarding the evils of slavery while supporting racist ideas in terms of character development (e.g. in the Morrowind universe, black people (Redguards) are faster and stronger than the intellectually superior white people (Bretons).
It would be a mistake to think that there are hooded robes in the closets at Bethesda Softworks of course, since the racism we are talking abuot is a much more subtle, hidden racism. But it's an issue that I think needs to be addressed by the RPG industry, probably sooner than later.
Thought/rant for the day:
Think back to when I was ranting about getting these RPC Windows Messenger spams and how much I hated it. For those that can't recall, the problem turned out to be simple: turn on Windows XP's firewall and disallow messenger traffic with the appropriate checkbox. Since that discovery I have been messenger service spam free at home.
Last night, I installed some updates on my PC at home, including a few patches that were called "Security Updates" by Windows Update...my natural assumption being that when you apply a security update, your computer becomes less susceptible to outside mischief.
So, given Microsoft's track record on security I guess I shouldn't have been suprised by the stack of Messenger Service spam on my PC's screen this morning.
Which brings me to the actual thought/rant of the day: Why is it that (I dunno, since the events of 9/11?) now whenever somebody does something for "my" security, protection, whatever... I end up more vulnerable and more at risk? I mean is this some sort of sick joke or is it some sort of bizarro not-world? I mean, will Superman pull Bush's face off and reveal that Bizarro is actually President?
I mean really... every law that has been passed since 9/11 for my protection seems to put me more at risk, either because the law causes more people to hate the United States or because it diminishes my rights to be protected from abuse while augmenting the right of the government to fuck with me whenever a low-level bureaucrat happens to decide that I'm a terrorist, or a possible terrorist, or somehow linked to terrorists, or went to second grade with a terrorist, or the money that I sent to the fucking Sierra Club got diverted to some refugee relief fund that gave a terrorist a fucking drink of water.
What am up with that? Stop protecting me already, before I'm a serf in some feudal monarchy with 5 disparate groups of terrorists blowing up the fucking 7-11 on some sort of co-op schedule...
On staff? I can almost not believe it, but the Philadelphia DN has produced not only the best cover they've ever had, but Invading Iraq not a new idea for Bush clique is actually a pretty decent article, and it was actually wrtten by a Daily News staffer.
I recommend the article as a good quick read, it summarizes the hawks in Bush's cabinet (including Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Armitage and others) and also looks at their connections to the oil industry...
It also looks into their involvement with the creepily monikered Project for the New American Century, which has apparently been pushing for war with Iraq since 1997 (3 years before Bush was in office or 9/11, for the historically challenged). Cheney, Rumsfeld and Jeb Bush are all members, incidently.
I'm getting less and less hits these days. I must be getting more and more out of touch with the mainstream... maybe I should start blogging more about current events, or celebrities or something. Or maybe just keep posting stuff with the words "ann coulter sexy" so I can keep getting the same couple people over and over again... I guess I did get some traffic over the Eric Hall incident, so that's nice to know my opinion is out on that one.
I apologise to everyone that my comments are still broken. I don't know how to fix it, but I'm looking into it.
#reqs: search term
22: direct advertiser
11: ann coulter sexy
7: webdav apache
6: teh suck
6: james smoak
3: sexy ann coulter
3: everquest blog
3: microsoft messenger service
3: abe krieger
2: momoko kikuchi
2: ninja power braggable
2: humansex with animals
2: messenger service winxp
2: goebbels with tits
2: cookeville police officer eric hall
2: ann coulter
2: turning japanese
2: winxp messenger service
2: blog everquest
2: projectbuilder bluej
EDIT: I guess I'd better make a style sheet for preformatted text, huh? That line spacing, oy! How ya lack me no?
Celebreate american style--by getting your war on.
"We're pro-democracy, pro-human rights, whatever... but you don't see us running around proving it."
That is so awesome.
I know, it's oligarchy. There's a nice editorial in today's New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristoff called A Boy and His Benefits about affirmative action, meritocracy and diversity in university admissions procedures.
It all gets back to the current brouhaha surrounding UMich not accepting some white folks, who it seems are pretty sure they would have gotten in if the law school wasn't giving preferential treatment to black folks--and of course that President Bush is against "quotas" (which by the way, is not how admissions systems work. see the article for an idea of how it really does work) and therefore is on the side of the white folks in this case.
Affirmative action is a tough issue because it reflects the collision between two aspirations -- diversity and meritocracy -- all in the hyper-sensitive zone of race. But this spring as we debate the cases before the Supreme Court, it would be a mistake to consider preferences for blacks in isolation. How can we evaluate the justice of preferences that favor blacks without considering preferences that benefit whites (legacy), athletes (football players), the wealthy (children of donors), and farm kids from Oregon (me when I applied to colleges)?Kristoff is talking about the point system that schools use for admissions here; i.e. you can also get points for being the son of an alumni (for example, if your father went to yale, you have a better chance to get in), or if you are in some way associated with the Unversity (for example, if you apply to Yale and your grandfather is on the Yale board of directors, you have a better chance of getting in), or if you come from a different part of the country (for example if you are from Texas and you apply to Yale, you have a better chance that a kid from Connecticut).
And this is sort of the point, beyond that affirmative action for all of its flaws is still most successful method of bringing African-Americans to economic and political equality with European-Americans, who by the way have and still do practiced their (our) own forms of affirmative action for centuries in this country.
Extra credit: What current United States President benefitted from Andover and Yale's point systems which not only help African American students get accepted at higher rates, but also mediocre students from Texas who only got SAT scores of 566/640 whose fathers are alumni and have grandfathers on the board? Explain how this does not constitute an unfair admissions policy, but allowing a degree of preference to the race of an applicant does.
I was just listening to him on my way into work this morning, and here he's a political commentator now:
Brian Eno has written an op-ed piece in Time entitled The U.S. Needs to Open Up to the World where he laments (probably in vain) that the United States is on a slow decent from a brave, vigorous nation to a bureaucratic paranoid empire.
Surely this isn't the America that anyone dreamed of; it's a last resort, nobody's choice. It's especially ironic since so much of the best new thinking about society, economics, politics and philosophy in the last century came from America. Unhampered by the snobbery and exclusivity of much European thought, American thinkers vaulted forward -- courageous, innovative and determined to talk in a public language. But, unfortunately, over the same period, the mass media vaulted backward, thriving on increasingly simple stories and trivializing news into something indistinguishable from entertainment. As a result, a wealth of original and subtle thought -- America's real wealth -- is squandered.It's a shame; I believe he's right, and I'm not clear that it is a trend that can be countered short of some sort of tremendous social crisis (which may or may not be building) that would force the American Giant to reawake.
I'm talking there about the Giant that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto saw after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. That was the last time the giant awoke and for a while, at least to hear the oldsters tell it, the U.S was a shining beacon of democracy and freedom.
For about 6 years.
Then the communist spectre loomed, and the cold war began. For a while there was a see-saw of liberty and paranoia... McCarthyism then Civil Rights, etc. I'm not sure how it really all went down, but essentially parts of our society were "progressing" (that's my classic liberal bias of course) while others were growing more insular and paranoid.
Anyway, as far as I can tell the giant was completely asleep by 1970. I think maybe it took a few too many 'ludes in the summer of '69, or maybe it was just bored to tears by idealistic hippie rhetoric. Nevertheless, as far as I can tell the American Giant has been asleep since then, maybe even before.
Despite earnest nationalistic sentiments to the contrary, the giant is not awake again either. And if there is a giant that's awake, I'm afraid that it is a very different giant...one that does not measure force against diplomacy, but only weighs if it can live with the consequences of the force it uses.
I'm starting to rant and get off the topic, but I don't really care. We don't need to stop. We need to wake up. The United States that is. We need to wake up. We are the sleeping giant, and we must wake up because our castle in the clouds is on fire.
Weird. I was just cruising amazon.de and I found out that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) will be shipping on June 21. Cool!
What's weird is that the same information is not available on the US website. /shrug.
My first experiments with photography (not counting tourist snapshots and disposable cameras) were with a digital camera and will to use the incorrect shutter speed. With this fond memory, I present you with this:
Ok, it's sort of cold and I let the battery in the camera get low (excuses, excuses), so I'm just blogging a photo shot yesterday, an uncomposite of the atlantic warehouse and the smokestack.
is the name of the game today. This photo is made up of 4 shots of the area containing the atlantic warehouse and my favorite smokestack in the world.
Beh. What else did I shoot? More concrete under fluorescent lights.
The the Hollywood-Insdustrial Complex is pushing a new consensus agreement on the social landscape regarding what is and isn't ok with them. What else is new?
[They] will argue against efforts in Congress to amend U.S. laws to broaden the rights of consumers, such as explicitly permitting viewers to make backup copies of DVDs for personal use or copy downloaded songs onto handheld listening devices.I would probably be more upset if the majority of so-called entertainment under the wing of the RIAA/MPAA didn't totally suck, but the underlying problem with this is that along with many other rights, the rights of US Consumers are being trampled by the almost out-of-control entertainment industry, who of course wants to be as restictive as possible in who can watch a copy of a DVD or listen to a cd.
I'm sure that if they could make it so that you had to buy a copy of a cd for every simgle person that listened to it they would, if it were technically feasable.
Frankly, I would also prefer that the government not impose hardware level copy restriction, but I would also prefer that the governement protect my rights to be able to copy media that I paid for.
Now that I mention it, I would prefer that the federal government get back in the business of upholding my civil liberties in general instead of brainstorming clever new ways to reduce them.
Ole' Otisfodder* has a new project: 365 days. One bizarre audio recording a day, with commentary.
Time to start minig the archives of my teenage tascam recording sessions (I used to play backup for Dave Silberman).
* Edit: It occurs to me that this has the feeling that I know Otisfodder, or whoever runs otisfodder.com. I don't. At all. I just don't want to be accused of name-dropping, like some people [humorous link removed at linkee's request] I could mention.
I'd like to ante up with a photo that is derivative of the photographic and canvaswork of Scott Sendra:
I haven't checked in with the H4x0r Economist in a while...
Actually, I'm just testing image uploading so I can start photoblogging.
I just upgraded to movabletype 2.5. What's the difference? Probably none to anybody but me.
And I'm not sure what it does for me. I should really send in that donation one of these days.
Rob Galbraith has posted an article that demonstrates that, despite Apple's claims to the contrary, in image processing, megahertz matters. And to put it more clearly, that at this point PCs are much faster than Macs when you use Photoshop.
This is more evidence to confirm what I've been observing for quite some time now.
I was working on a project recently which included (among many other things) rasterizing fourty-one 5-10MB .eps images that had been exported from autocad.
I set up a batch in photoshop on my (then) brand new dual G4 with 1gb of ram and sat back while photoshop slogged through the work. Normally I'd stop playing with the computer and do something else.
But today, I had the Dell laptop that the rasterized images were ultimately bound for, and it had photoshop. Since this job was sort of a rush, I decided to process some of the images on the laptop.
A half hour later, the Dell (Laptop!!! Not even the top of the line one!) had finished all of the processing and the mac was not even half done the same amount of work.
This was when I began to realize that megahertz was perhaps not as much as a myth as Apple likes to claim. It's a shame, because I prefer MacOSX to WinXP by far.... but the speed is so disparate at this point that I find my self working on WinXP just because it's so much faster for so many things... and I curse a lot more because the OS is lacking so many features that MacOS (not OSX as much) has had for years...
What infuriates me the most is that if James Smoak does anything in retaliation to Cookeville Police Officer Eric Hall, the pig that murdered his dog in cold blood he'll be branded a criminal with double-punishement and jail time.
But Eric Hall will be protected from public outrage and social repercussions. He has been 'reassigned' to administrative duty until 'the matter is resolved' (until it all blows over) according to the Cookesville Police Department. The dog and the family that loved him receives no protection, and no justice. The department has already decided that Eric Hall was protecting himself, and will defend him accordingly.
That's the story: a policeman murdered a family dog in front of an american family and gets to walk away laughing. And the officer will be protected.
"I saw one of the THP officers walk over to the city officer who had shot the dog and grin," he said.It is truly alarming, because recent studies (and common sense) will suggest strongly that this police officer is not long from doing the same thing to a human... he has exhibited extremely poor judgement with a firearm and woefullly poor impulse control.
He reported that to the supervising officer, THP Lt. Jerry Andrews, and Andrews "was very nice, very professional," Smoak said.
"He told me the officer was not laughing, but I know he was," said Smoak.
This is a policeman who is more akin to a wild predator; dangerous, unpredicatable and potentially deadly to the citizenry that it's his duty and obligation to protect.
And since the Tennesee Highyway Patrol has all but officially decided to protect Eric Hall they not only confirm that they are not interested in protecting the people from rogue policemen, but in my mind they will be liable for any crimes this officer commits.
And the police of this country should also be concerned. I suspect that very few police are malignant in the manner of Eric Hall, but when rogue officers are protected by their departments it is a stain on every police officer. This is something police should think about in conjunction with their concerns that violence against police is on the rise, that the majority of the american public has a falling respect for the police... I believe that more people fear the police than respect their authority, and policemen like Eric Hall are the cause.
For myself, I can only send my ill will wishes for Eric Hall, and hope that he ultimately suffers despair and brutal pain for his crime.
Or at the very least that he would get fired, and be ostracized from his community.
The former does seem more just, however.
So the good (and in my mind reasonable) folks of Porter Township, PA have passed a law specifying that denying corporate personhood. In other words, corporations do not have the rights afforded to natural human beings, but only the privleges afforded to them by the society at large. They do not have a right of "free expression" (nice example: Nike has been claiming in court it has a "right to lie" in it's advertising and press releases, since it has the "right of free speech"), they do not have the right to be protected from discrimination. and they do not have 5th ammendment protections as many corporations have claimed over the years.
Many people, namely conservatives but I'm sure also moderates and liberals alike will be uneasy about this direction, afraid that it will hurt companies and business in the US.
Frankly, the US is the only place where a corporation is a "person" under law, and business seems to do quite fine in other places too.
And the recent reduction of civil rights in the US gives a great precedent of reassurance: "Only the corporations who have done something wrong have anything to worry about" with a reduction in rights of this nature.
And I'm sure the business community will agree that corporations that do wrong are the very small minority of businesses.
This just in, Tom Tomorrow establishes the clear link between Pat Robertson and Al Qaeda.
I recently stumbled upon The Language Construction Kit in my search for a decent random name generator (don't ask...too geekily painful). Wow. This guy is totally my hero on the internet. Not only does he invent whole languages, he wrote a guide on how to do it yourself.
And, if that wasn't enough my latent inner Tintin fanboy is stunned by his grammary of Hergé's Syldavian language.
His site also reminded me of an old Suck... or at least an aside:
The late Professor Tolkien reportedly created his fantasies in support of imaginary languages he created for his enjoyment, which is sort of like starting a band because you bought a bunch of empty CD containers.
First day back, and we're already relaxing the rules? House Republicans celebrated their new found power by weakening rules on lobbyist gifts.
The new food rule applies, for example, when lobbyists want to have dinner delivered to a committee office when lawmakers and their staffs are working late on legislation.Which should be understood as when the lawmakers are working on the lobbyists legislation.
God damn bastards. Government via smash-and-grab. Seriously, forget the war on terrorism. They'll only bring it up when they want us to look the other way... and I'm talking Democrat and Republican... the real story is that the wealthy are changing the rules back to pre-New Deal, and sadly most Americans seem to be supportive of it, although I have no idea why.
In other news: it turns out that when black people kill white people, they're more likely to get the death penalty.
A buncha of apple news, filtered for joo:
Powerpoint Keynote: Not content to piss off Microsoft by trying to muscle in on IE's marketshare, Apple has decided to attack the niche of 1/3 of MS Office: Powerpoint. XML file format, anti-aliasing, blah blah blah. It's main selling point seems to be better clip art, and that it's not made by Miscrosoft. It's really hard to take Keynote seriously, and I can't believe they want $99 for it. $49 would have made more sense, since you still have to pony up $299 for Office, since Keynote lacks a wordprocessor or spreadsheet.
iLife: Apple will be releasing iMovie 3, iDVD 2 and iPhoto 2 on January 25th with iTunes 3 (already released) in a package called iLife which will now retail for $49, as opposed to free. Except that iTunes, iMovie and iPhoto will still be free downloads. Jobspeak translation: iDVD 2 will be priced at $49, and will come with the other iApps thrown on the install cd.
New 17" Powerbook: Big screen. What else is there to say? Yawn. It's nice to see 800mbs firewire and 802.11g wireless networking available now...
X11 for X: Hey neat. Now I can run xterm with Aqua widgets. Seriously though, you can download a few other X11 Packages from OpenDarwin. Good luck trying to figure it out if you've never used X11. Or if you're like me and have sort of used X11 before, but really don't get it at all. That xterm sure is keen though.
All we could do (if we had a weimeraner)
I can't stop (because I'm making too much money)
My tape deck is broken
do we recycle?
please, please, please (rinse your cup out)
Dumb yet at the same time great app of the day: FridgeMagnets.
You run it and it makes digital fridge magnet type letters that you can drag around your desktop. That's it. MacOSX only, ha ha.
I've been meaning to post a link to this for a while....the Bud K Catalog.
It's only funny because about 2 months ago, Chris and I were talking about something I don't even remember) and he was all like (about who we were talking about) "they're like those people who, I don't know, buy swords and then are all geeky happy like 'I have a sword!'"
And then from out of nowhere, the Bud K catalog arrived at my house, like in the mail. I guess I got on their list from playing everquest, or something similar.
But it was funny.
But seriously, take a look. The top 5 best sellers is sure to make you at least consider moving to another country, though.
...Eminem has proved his staying power as rock & roll's biggest pain in the ass, at a time when most music is trying its damnedest to be dull. -ROB SHEFFIELD (RS 911 - Dec. 12, 2002)This little sentence in Rolling Stone's People of the Year 2002 caught my eyes and then caused them to roll skyward--not because of the cliched overwrought phrasing (is music trying its "damdest" to be dull?), but because it brought racism to my full attention again.
I bolded rock -n-roll because Eminem has nothing to do with rock-n-roll whatsoever. He's a rapper, an emcee, a hip-hop guy whatever. It's not rock. It's not rock-n-roll. It's rap.
The reason I make the distinction is because the only reason I can figure that Rolling Stone associates him with rock-n-roll is that Eminem is white. I may be wrong, but I've have seen very few instances where Jay-Z, Busta Rymes, Mos Def or even Dr. Dre were described as belonging to rock-n-roll at all... which is as it should be. Because they belong to the same genre of music as Eminem. Even though they are black, and he's white.
Sort of the same way that Chuck Berry and Little Richard belong to the same genre as Elvis, even though they are black and he is white.
Of course, I'm not trying to compare Eminem to Elvis. Another story there, and not to favorable to Eminem.
The reason I bring it up is that in my opinion this wink-wink racism is what creates the ideological space for greater crimes of bigotry to continue unabated in our society.
I hear them all the time, unchallenged-- blacks have good rhythm, whites can't dance, asians are studious, blah blah blah. With the exception the relatively bland but still negative ones I hear about whites*, most are the positive stereotypes that originate from the same places as the negative ones. It's just now people voice the positive and are demure with the negative.
But I posit that where the one is, the other can not be far. There are very few things that I feel comfortable being dogmatic about, but the mental virus of racism has demonstrated to me dogmas use: as an antibiotic for the brain. I hold that you can not defeat racism until you have convinced yourself that race itself does not exist, and that it is as equally false as it is convenient.
Eminem is a rapper, an emcee. He doesn't do rock...from the few songs I've heard him sing, he would really suck as a rock-n-roller. That's fine for him, because he can rap and write really well. The same way as I can play rock drums fine, but pretty much suck as a classical percussionist.
It's just two different things. Neither of which have anything to do with the color of anybody's skin. Or shouldn't, anyway.