Friday, January 28, 2011

Special Comment- The Value of Justice vs. Self Interest

Since the sham of the election that Iran held in 2009 and the protests that followed, I have worn a piece of green ribbon around my left wrist. Green was the color that had come to represent the candidacy of Mir-Hossein Mousavi and the prospect of a more progressive and open Iran. I wanted to somehow show solidarity with the protesters. Even though the protests have largely faded, I continue to wear it as a sign of solidarity with people who seek justice.

The people of the Middle East are not different than you and I. It is an obvious statement, I know, however I feel it is easy to fall into the trap of looking at foreign peoples as a large clump that are just different. It just isn't the case. There are boyfriends and girlfriends. They have cell phones and use Facebook. They are not behind us socially or technologically. The most visible parts of the Islamic World in our media may be dominated by extremist views and violence, but in reality that is not the case.

In Egypt, large protests yesterday have caused instability to the current repressive regime in Cairo. These protests seem to have been fueled by the recent overthrow of the Tunisian Government, which was another repressive government that failed to provide economic opportunity for its people. Also there have been massive protests in Yemen.

The Egyptian protests will continue for days to come. It does seem that it will come to some sort of climatic end. With the Military now being in the streets of the major cities of Egypt it seems that one way or the other something will happen. Either Mubarak will be ousted and forced into exile* or there will be a violent crushing of the protests on Mubarak's orders.

The correct faction for the United States to align themselves with is the protesters who are seeking a more free and economically progressive Egypt. This is not a question of security, but a question of justice. Choosing to not support a popular uprising goes directly against the founding principles of our nation. The fear of who the Egyptians might choose to lead them democratically shouldn't be a concern. We shouldn't support Dictators when their people seek liberty.

It is a mentality that is left over from the Cold War. A Dictator is ok as long as he is 'our guy.' The principles of our country aren't important as long as a countries ruler is friendly or at least an enemy of an enemy. The idea that protecting our self interest in case of some sort of global war is not only unnecessary, but entirely unjust. The fear is that if the people of Egypt or the Middle East at large are given popular sovereignty they will cause change that will be hostile to the U.S.

It seems to me that the fear of actual Democracy in the Middle East is not only hypocritical, but also unfounded. If the people of the Middle East choose to elect governments that will be hostile to the West, so be it. I don't think that will be the case in most cases. I think there is some sort of rationalization for the west to allow Dictatorships to continue in the Middle East. Also, I think there is a sort of 'Chalabi effect' that those nationals and Ex-patriots of Middle Eastern countries are feeding information to Western Governments and Media about the results of Democracy to reach their own ends.

Ultimately, there should be justice in Egypt. That should be the main interest of the United States. It should not be the small bit of self interest that Egypt controls. If all this results in a new Egypt that is not so friendly to the United States that doesn't matter. It should be up to the people of Egypt to decide who their rulers should be.

Thanks for reading and please comment.

*I fear the U.S. will provide him exile.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Special Comment- State of the Union Discussion

The United States can sustain an 'unsustainable' burden of debt indefinitely. We are not Ireland or Greece. Even with mind-boggling debt, there is no one who has any leverage or incentive to cause the U.S. to go into bankruptcy. If China decided to put the United State in default, it would crash the United States' economy along with the world's by devaluing the dollar thus destroying China's marketplace.

It is still not wise to continue to run huge deficits. Deficit spending on a temporary basis can be a very good thing. In fact Deficit spending in the past few years has kept the U.S. and global economies from completely crashing. It will continue to be advisable to create jobs for upcoming years as well. However, indefinite deficit spending shouldn't continue. The simple reason is that eventually the interest on the debt would become so great that taxes would have to go up and there would be no benefit to the populous.

There are two things in the budget that dominate all else and until they are addressed for real there will be no progress towards a budget surplus. Defense spending and Entitlements are areas that politicians as a general rule are afraid to touch. Old people vote and cutting the military is seen as unpatriotic and will get the rednecks out to vote against you. But the truth is 'discretionary' spending is basically the flea on the elephant's back. Yes, you can freeze it or even cut it, but that's not where real progress will be made.

I don't really understand why the defense budget needs to be so big. Who is the real threat any more? The Cold War ended ages ago. There is no hostile nation that is a legitimate military rival to the United States in anyway. There just isn't the need for the massive budget anymore. It's like continuing to buy engagement rings once you've gotten married. The closest thing the U.S. has to an enemy is just a band of disorganized criminals. Sending loads or our troops to look for them isn't very smart as it provides them an easy way and really the only way they are currently able to attack Americans. The United States no longer needs to maintain such an expensive military anymore. The U.S. military is often a force for good, but it doesn't need such a budget to keep that role. I would suggest at least a 25% cut to military spending.

Entitlement programs have basically turned into unfunded mandates the U.S. government has placed on itself. Social safety nets are very important to advanced civilization. I think there needs to be an increase in the funding from payroll taxes. Currently the rate is 6.2% up to just above $106,000 of income. I believe that rate should be extended to $200,000 and then the rate should be double on all income after $200,000. Politicians are choosing not to address the reality of the situation. These programs will be a huge burden on the deficit and will cease to exist unless action is taken to make them viable.

Health Care Reform is still important. The package passed last year was a bit of a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go. Any attempts to repeal last years bill are not only unwise, but is a clear refusal to accept the political realities of the moment. It still needs to go further. Under no circumstance should the Medical industry be allowed to remain entirely private. As long as that is the case, Health Care is about profit not about actual Health Care. Male Pattern Baldness will be a bigger deal than Malaria. Plastic Surgery will be more important than finding new ways to fight MRSA after any number surgeries that are actually important to ones health. Even the biggest Capitalist should release that things should not work that way. Prescription Drug costs shouldn't rise just because a company has the patten. Money should not dictate quality of care. Frivolous things shouldn't be given greater importance than serious problems, because they are more profitable. This country needs universal health care and at least a Government-run health insurance option that is not about profit.

The biggest things that needs to happen is the creation of jobs. The best way for us to do that is a massive investment in America's infrastructure. Roads need to be made more efficient. Bridges need to be improved, renovated and rebuilt. Light Rails can be built to help reduce the dependency on personal cars for commuting. The Energy Grid needs to be updated. The potential of the Internet as a tool needs to be fulfilled. These things and more can be used to create jobs temporarily and permanently while strengthening the nation.

Thanks for reading and please comment.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gaming Tuesday- 2011

Hello! Since this is the first Gaming Tuesday of 2011 it is really good to do two things. First is to discuss expectations for the the upcoming year and secondly to make changes to the format of this post for the new year.

Last year I did weekly updates on my achievements. I came to realize that those were largely self-important bullshit and have decided to stop them. As something to remember those by, here's a visual representation of my donation to the Harry Potter Alliance as a result of my weekly achievement goals:

HPA Donation Check

I will continue to set challenges, but they will be slightly different in nature. Instead of every week having a challenge about overall gamerscore, I will give more specific challenges and they won't necessarily be every week. For example if a new game comes out, I may set it for a certain amount of gamerscore from that game in the first week its out. It won't always be about achievement points. We'll see how this progresses throughout 2011. The charity I will be donating to this year will be the This Star Won't Go Out Foundation.


So here is the first challenge I'm going to issue myself. This is also kinda of a trial run for this new system.

Challenge: Score 100 points in a game of NCAA Football 11 using the National Champion Auburn Tigers. If I fail to score 100 points in a game, I will donate a quarter for ever point I am short from my best scoring game.

Conditions: All-American Difficulty, 5 Minute Quarters, Opponent has no worse than a B+ Defense, Cannot use QB #2(Cam Newton), Must be the Away team, Default Auburn Playbooks

2011 Gaming Expectations

We're still in a slow period for gaming releases after a frantic period in late 2010. That will soon pick up, but the four titles I'm most anticipating are not slated until later in the year. Those games are Alice: Madness Returns, Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3 and Mortal Kombat.

Another game I'm really curious about is Madden 12. I thought Madden 11 was virtually unplayable. It was unrealistic and incredibly frustrating and a step in the wrong direction. However it did receive critical praise. I'm hoping it will actually be improved this year.

I'm also wondering about motion gaming in 2011. Will it remain just a niche in gaming or will it become a larger force? I'm hoping Niche. I can't imagine Kinectimals having that much sticking power.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------'s Tara went 'undercover' into the world of and here's the article about her experience. Gamecrush is a website where one can pay to play video games with a 'playdate'
over web-cam. Obviously the 'playdates' are largely female and the site users are mostly males. As you might have expected, this site isn't in reality entirely about the gaming. In fact it seems to be a pretense for a cam site.

To be fair, not all the play dates are stripping instead of playing games nor are all the users just there to see some tits. However that does seem to be pretty prevalent on that site even though it is against the terms and conditions. Although, it does seem that there is very little enforcement on the site.

I don't want to go anymore in depth about the site. The Zaxy article does a very good job of that and this article from Pixelated Geek goes in-depth. However I do want to address the question that keeps coming up about this site. That is: Why do guys feel the need to use that site?

I have no desire to use Gamecrush at all. I don't see the point in either sense. I like to game with my friends over Xbox Live; not with a stranger over web cam. In the other sense, I would rather keep my porn and my gaming* separate.

I'm as socially awkward as anyone and left to my own devices my face-to-face interactions with girls would be pretty rare. I mean I say I'm socially awkward, which is very true, but put me around an attractive girl and it's increased significantly. That is unless we've been friends for a long time.

I have only been in a party with a girl two times on Xbox Live and have only one woman on my friend's list. I would love it if I gamed girls more often, but I really feel Gamecrush is demeaning to both parties involved. It also really shouldn't be necessary for guys who want to game with girls. There are plenty of female gamers out there, which leads to my final plea.

Guys need to stop being such douchebags on Xbox Live, generally, but specifically when there are girls around. I'd imagine there are a lot more female gamers out there than we know, because they never plug in their mics to avoid being told to, 'make me a sammich' or 'send me a topless pic to prove you're not just a little boy.' Just because your anonymous and want to prove how much of a man you are to a bunch of male strangers doesn't give you the right to treat another person like that.

Thanks for reading and please comment.


*Full Disclosure: I certainly do find certain female characters in games very sexy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's Been a while. How Have You Been?

Ok, I've not been very good about posting the past few weeks. I have been busy and this will be a catch up post.

The week after Christmas I went to visit my best friend Patrick in Huntington, West Virginia. A lot of the week was spent just lounging around and playing video games, but there were certainly some highlights.

One night we went to a Marshall Basketball game against Binghampton. Marshall really dominated Binghampton on the court, which isn't surprising given the fact that the Binghampton basketball program imploded on itself only 1 1/2 years ago. However that wasn't the most important part of that night. Pat and I discovered the greatest human being to ever have existed in the history of human existence. His name is Jabbi and he is a Forward on Binghampton's basketball team. He is so great that he can punch someone on the court and not get ejected.

On New Year's Eve, we went to celebrate Patrick's Niece's 3rd birthday at a place call Gattiland* in Kentucky. Pretty standard little kid birthday stuff there. It was funny and cute when she didn't want to give up her tickets to exchange them for prizes.

After that and a trip to a liquor store we were back at Pat's place to celebrate the New Year. It was pretty low-key and fun and there certainly wasn't a giant awkward elephant in the room ;) This is as good a time as any to say this was in reference to something that happened that night.

You'll never find a better/more disgusting liquor than Goldenschlager. That is what I drank on New Year's Eve. After a shot of that you'll certainly know what heart burn feels like for a few minutes. For a liquor it does taste pretty good, but depending on your stomach it may also make you instantly nauseous. It does get easier after your first shot, but I can't really go a lot further than one shot**.

I took 3 shots that night, but they were pretty well spaced, so I wasn't ever too far gone. I took one at about 11, another after the ball dropped and one at about 2. Right before my final shot, Gandalf and Dumbledore came by and gave Pat a beer. I swear that Dumbledore performed a vanishing spell on it. I didn't dump it down the sink because Pat was already too drunk and I thought it was probably laced. It was the spell.

On New Year's Day, as you can imagine, I slept in pretty late. However that didn't stop us from taking a nap that afternoon when the games got boring. Although it turned into a 5 hour nap for Pat. When we were awake the day was spent watching sports. They brought me home the next day. It was an awesome trip!

The past two weeks, my Cousin, Taylor and his girlfriend, Sheryl from Arizona have been visiting. They flew in very early on Tuesday morning two weeks ago and left last Thursday. I hung out with them everyday of their visit/was their personal chauffeur ;)

Seriously, it was really nice to have them here. We spent loads of time playing games. We played Rummy, Clue, Scategories, Scrabble, and a few others. It was lots of fun and filled with many accusations of cheating. We also played in the snow. It's been a long time since I've played in the snow. It was awesome.

Last Saturday, we had a big family get together for a late Christmas. It was the first time that all the Grandchildren/my generation have been together in a long time. It was really nice to be together with everyone and hope that it won't be such a rarity in the future.

I've been sick for the past week. I'm getting better though. I backed way off on the medication today and am doing ok.

Ok, I'm going to get back into the regular blogging routine now. I only have one thing on my calendar for the next few weeks, so I guess things will be getting back to normal in my hermit life.

Thanks for reading and please comment.


*Imagine a redneck Chuck E. Cheese.
**I'm a lightweight

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Special Comment- The Other Side Is Not The Enemy

It has been out of hand for quite some time now. The political discussions in this country are no longer intelligent, articulate and reasoned, but rather more of an incitement of violence against the other side because they are horrible people out to destroy the country. I think a lot of people have feared that the rhetoric of the past few years would lead to violent acts against the government. Yesterday's attack in Tuscan is the most stark act of political terrorism in recent times, but it certainly isn't alone. An assassination of an abortion doctor, an attempted bombing at a Mosque, and a man crashing a plane into an IRS office are just a few attacks since the 2008 presidential campaign.

It is really a shame that political leaders and those who have a cable news platform play on our fears and turn the smallest piece of legislation into socialism or fascism. Change is very gradual with our system of Government. No matter how big one parties victory is in an election, they will not be able to make sweeping changes. One Congress can never change the economic system or turn the United States into a police State. It was made that way in a stroke of brilliance by the Founders just in case idiots got in charge and had influence. Right now, it seems as though idiots and fear mongers are in charge.

No matter what Glenn Beck or Keith Olberman says, the opposing political view point is not out to destroy the country and even if they were set on doing that, they couldn't. Pushing the view that the other side politically is the enemy rather than other countrymen who have different views on what is best for the country is in reality an incitement of violence. Those with platforms to influence people shouldn't preach fear and hatred unless they want some of their followers to act desperately and resort violence.

It's not fair to entirely blame those who have created the dangerous rhetoric, however there is plenty of blood to go onto their hands from Yesterday's shooting and the prior acts of terrorism. Neither side is innocent. It is time for our leaders to stop this. We don't need to call each other Hitler on the Senate floor. The slightest bit of government regulation is not Socialism. It is time to stop the use of big and dangerous words which don't really mean anything, but scare the masses. The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and murder of six innocent people caught in the middles of this nonsense should be a wake up call to the political and media leadership in this country. It is time to turn the rhetoric ship around and return to a somewhat civilized and informed discourse.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I went away for a while and didn't have proper blogging facilities. That's my reason for disappearing for a while. Also, my end of the year gaming tuesday ended up being shit since I didn't end up putting as much time into it before I left as I should have. I'll write more about this tomorrow. Now it's time for the 2010 reflections blog.

Yes, it is a little late, but I've already explained.

Overall, I'd say 2010 was a very good year for me. It certainly wasn't perfect and I definitely made loads of mistakes, but I feel I'm a better person and have really reconciled who I am with who I want to be. I am also I'm really glad to have found the niches that I found last year.

2010 has perhaps been the strangest year for me in my perception of time passing. Certainly the first few months of 2010 have felt like they were ages ago even though at the time it felt like they were passing quickly. Even at the end of the year it felt strange. I don't think I'm alone in feeling that Christmas time didn't really feel like Christmas time. Even thought it was cold and snowy, it just always seemed like it was too early to be Christmas.

So here are some brief discussions of some events that were memorable in 2010 for me.

Last year I had the 2 strangest experiences of my life. The first is chronicled here. The other is neither appropriate or prudent for me to discuss here. However if you really care I may have done a little bit better than hinting at it on another social media site. Even with that it isn't the full story.

This year I found the world of Nerdfighters and have since tried my best too fully immerse myself. I love it.

I turned 21 in May, but didn't buy my first alcoholic beverage until July, because I'm lame like that.

Fall quarter 2010 was probably my favorite quarter as a student so far. It was also by far the most challenged I've ever been in an academic sense. This is not to say that I've not studied in quarters before then, but I'm pretty sure I spent more time studying last quarter than I have in the entirety of my school life.

I started this blog.

This last week has been pretty damn fun. However I don't think I want anything cinnamon for a while ;)

I met Lauren Fairweather.

Liane Graham commented on one of my posts. That seriously made my life.

On a Saturday, the week before Halloween, my friends, Nick, Pat, Tommy and I went to dinner and then to a haunted house. At dinner I got a little drunk and went Pat told the waitress he would buy me another drunk, I a little bit louder than I meant, said after the waitress, "He's trying to fuck me." Not giving context to this one, but later on that night my quote was, "I have two holes."

Enough about the past let's get onto Resolutions. I've got two specifically to share.

First I want to stop saying, "God." Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a moralist about things, but I definitely want to stop calling out to something I don't believe in and in the wrong company pissed people off. I'm going to try my best to not say, "God," but I'm definitely not going to replace it with, "gosh." My goal for this year is to replace "God" in my vocabulary with "Pallas." When I say that, if anyone gets it I may have found a new friend.

The other has to do with my anxiety. I just don't want my anxiety about things to be so large anymore. I'm sure I'll be sharing what's going with that on here.

Happy New Year Everyone! Why not share your thoughts on the past year or the brand new one down in the comments?

Thanks for reading and please comment.