Catching Up: Random Thoughts

Alright well I don’t actually blog about random things as much anymore, partly because I’m CONSTANTLY typing up and posting exercise logs and trying to stay active enough in real life to NOT have the time. Today is a day off though and despite a lazy morning I got shopping and working out in and still have plenty of time in my evening. So I thought I’d just post a few thoughts to my blog.

Catching up on TV

I’m a bit out of the loop these days and one of the things I’m out of the loop on is reality tv. I really watch very little television these days (some current series I watch are shows like Once Upon a Time, American Horror Story, Justified, The Walking Dead… I think my Netflix subscription only exists these days for catching up on Sons of Anarchy which I’m very, very far behind on… also I watch wrestling, but that’s not really tv as much as it is video noise). Anyways, for whatever reason reality tv is still pretty popular these days and I know one show a lot of my friends have been big on was Duck Dynasty. Now all I know (which is literally nothing) about the show is that it’s a bunch of Louisiana hillbillies who got rich making duck hunting gear.

So just from the premise of this show I’m sort of expecting the show’s cast to be less than educated, perhaps really technically proficient in some way as far as business goes but probably not the most tolerant or intelligent. So it follows from that situation that I’d sort of expect them to have unconventional and perhaps socially unacceptable viewpoints about homosexuals as it pertains to orthodox religious beliefs. I think that kind of comes with the show’s premise, doesn’t it?

If you want to catch up on what I’m talking about, watch this trendy entertainment review show recap on the subject

Anyways you might think I have a lot to say about this. I’m particularly ambivalent about it, if everyone in popular culture had sit down interviews and enough time the vast majority would say something that’d be controversial in such a scope. It’s just that we put people out into notoriety because they’re charactures, cartoon representations of real people and cultural tropes. Also as far as the ignorant comments go… the only way you’re going to know people are ignorant people is to let them speak their mind. How else are you going to confront those points of view?

As for the future of the show? I don’t watch it, but I suppose it shouldn’t have it’s principle cast member kicked from the air. Maybe if you watch it and don’t think those kinds of ideas represent your points of view, maybe you should just use the show as a way to be vocal about that issue. I’m nobody to be talking about the quality of what airs on tv after all… I spend my time watching tv wondering stupid things like why kids these days like John Cena and not CM Punk, I’m not sophisticated enough to judge anyone else’s preferences.

Catching up on Games

It’s the winter, which means more indoor time. I still try to prioritize heavily on hanging out with my friends and working out routinely (as you can tell if you dig through my fitness log), but frankly it’s not surprising that I’m playing a few games in the inbetween hours curled up under a cat, a blanket with my Dyson air multiplier space heater blowing max on me.

One game I completed recently with a friend was The Stanley Parable. For those who haven’t heard of it, if you are a fan of first person games with less of a focus on action and more on narrative and game design – such as the Portal series which I also recently finished (I’m WAY behind on games) – then The Stanley Parable is well worth the money. Without spoiling the adventure ahead, you guide an office worker named Stanley and go on an adventure to discover the meaning of choice. Not just choice in games or choices as they affect a narrative story structure but choice as a facet of life. The Stanley Parable is one of those games that only a game conceptually, but it’s exploration of narrative tropes in video games is hilarious for anyone who has spent years gaming.

This is your 10 hour adventure theme courtesy the game’s composer

Sometimes I think my life is like Stanley’s, where my choices don’t matter – most of what is in my day to day life is just stuff I’m obliged to do if I want my life to be happy or successful – that life is just more about the experience of having it. If nothing else, sticking to the metaphor, we’re all stuck wandering the same office, the same coridoors and walking through the same doorways while the same narrator tells us what to do, where to go and how to feel. It’s just how we respond to it that matters.

Another game I’m having a fun time with, which is dated a bit, is the latest Tomb Raider. Found it cheap on Steam a few months ago and finally decided to play it. The action is great with every moment making you wince in pain as you see Lara Croft, the game’s protagonist, get bloody, beaten, stabbed, jabbed, arrow’ed, shot at, crushed and brutalized throughout the game’s many cutscenes and action sequences.

Also exploring the lush island is fun, with a lot of arbitrary objectives to revisit areas for… for instance in the first real area of the game, you’re in a forest and as you find relics, camp sights and strategic objectives (in the first level that’s finding hanging relics and smashing them) as well as a fast travel system to revisit areas you passed up. Doing these side objectives you get clear indicators as to your progress and even if you do enough exploring you’ll find a treasure map to locate most of the rest of the unlocated objects so the process never seems tedious to be completionist.

This depiction of Lara Croft just gets you into the game like a good movie. You feel in touch with the heroine and nothing is better in a good video game than feeling like you care if the main character doesn’t die or get smashed, impaled, thrown off a cliff perhaps several times… I just want Lara to get all those valuable relics back home and then have a nice bubble bath. Forget all the horrible things that nearly killed her, and all that blood, mud and tombs filled of corpses and all the people she had to kill to get home.

Another game I played not long ago… Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. It’s pretty cheap on Steam and again in some ways it’s not much of a game there are a few basic environmental puzzles but mostly it’s just wandering through dark and spooky places and avoiding the game’s few monsters while you’re exposed to a horrifying story. If you’re not even a gamer and you just like horror as a genre, you should really consider playing both Amnesia games (the first was A Dark Descent, you had inventory management in the first game so it was a little more of a trip game mechanics wise).

Catching up on the internet

I watch a lot of Youtube to find fitness videos and just to entertain myself. Well one thing I think is worth noting is Youtube changed it’s copyright policies and more heavily automated, and a lot of content creators – especially those doing game reviews/playthroughs – are having their videos flagged by this new system in a systematic way to revoke their rights to any ad revenue from the system. This is a problem on a number of levels, but first I’ll note, one of the biggest discouragements of me personally doing video blogs when I used to do them was as a regular user I’d have copyright flags on some of my videos for content matching they used back then. Disputing that was a huge discouragement to producing content for it at all.

I always believed that fair use should be very liberalized, that you should really classify almost everything except for literal reproduction as fair use. That said, the problem isn’t just in the whole copyright issue I’ve gone into length about copyright and patent abuse before. The newest issue is that a lot of copyright claims under the new Youtube system is systematically driving ad revenue to a ton of very largely unverified copyright claims, and downright copyright trolls. A lot of the automated claims Youtube processes are not even being done by copyright holders, and the system takes away ad revenue from Youtube’s largest content producers and gives it to whatever copyright troll is the first to create the copyright claim.

Anyways I think it’s important we start laying in a system to penalize those who misuse copyright claims. The internet policies that stem from current copyright law really create a system where it’s simply too easy to create fraudulent claims, which is a big problem being faced on Youtube right now. If copyright holders were held to penalties for creating fraudulent claims, the need to pre-emptively censor questionable content and to not actually scrutinize claims (now Youtube seems to be relying on robots to enforce the policies) would disappear.

Here are some thoughts on the whole situation by Youtube game player jacksepticeye, because all things are better in an Irish accent

I admit this rant wasn’t well formed, but hey it’s my day off, give me some slack, it’s been a while. Hope you all are enjoying your holidays!

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Projects & Links

The Thomas Jefferson Blog

My book that I wrote about a founding father who finds himself lost in time, set in the 2003-2006 post 9/11 Bush era of politics. Free for reading online, although I’ve abandoned efforts to get it published.
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Know True Evil

A small wallpaper page dedicated to those who lost their lives to the carelessness of government gone wrong.
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Socialism WORKS!

Socialism WORKS! is a short website presentation I put together years ago with help from a friend. It is something of a snarky take on Socialism, critical of the advantages of Socialism from various origins of the idea.
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