Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

What's the Harm?

I've been complaining a lot about Democrats' inability to communicate. Why does it matter? Why should we care about the war of words, so long as Democrats vote on the right side of issues?

There are X problems:

Most immediately, it hurts legislation going on right now. When Democrats vote for something that is only reviled in the press, they know they'll look bad for doing it. They'll hesitate before voting for good bills, and bow to demands to include Republican measures in the bills they pass.

Next year, we'll see 1/3 of the Senate, the entire House, and the legislatures of most states up for grabs. How can people vote for Democrats in these elections, with no mental capacity to defend them? I'm not saying that Democratic voters are dumb, I'm saying that there must be a justification for taking an action, and it must be enunciated. Obama has done more to fix the systemic problems that face the United States in living memory, but unless someone says it, it's hard to support him.

The problems of failed legislation and losing elections are going to be disastrous, but they're not the biggest issue of the mute Democratic organization. The real tragedy is long in the future, when the kids of today become the citizen-governance of tomorrow. When you grow up hearing both Democrats and Republicans saying that we need to cut the Federal budget to save the economy, (which is false) why would you doubt it?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dragon Age II Impressions

I'm about 2/3 of the way through Dragon Age Two, and so far, I'd give it the same review I'd give to Dragon Age One: It's a great story with great characters, lamentably tied to a "game" that's annoying, repetitive, and boring.

Dragon Age II might actually be worse for making you fight meaningless battles all the time. Any time you want to do something, you're inevitably jumped by a dozen interchangeable thugs or monsters. The first dozen isn't enough, though, once you're mostly done with the first group, another wave of people emerges from the scenery. This makes combat overly familiar, and the way enemies appear from nowhere makes the tactics mostly irrelevant. Combat should be significant, emotionally and in game terms. If Hawke kills 50 guys just to walk to where the mission starts, how are we supposed to care about a threat, or about someone's death?

If someone made a mod that removed the combat, that'd be great. I'd love to "play" it as a movie with occasional decision points. Dragon Age or Mass Effect could both be a great movie/TV series, but Dragon Age doesn't really work as a game.

Keep the writers, fire the people in charge of gameplay.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

God's Evolution

In a theological debate, Richard Dawkins was challenged thusly: "Religious convictions are common; why have we evolved to believe in god?" He answered along the lines of reasons why humans get psychological and social benefits from religion.

I would respond differently. Humans haven't evolved to believe in gods, god has evolved to fit into humans' beliefs. We've seen a steady development of religious concepts, shaping themselves to fit into our understanding of science, etc.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Infinite Prosperity

In America:

There are more bedrooms than there are people, but there are people without a place to sleep.

There's more food thrown away than people need to eat, but people go hungry.

Cosmetic surgery and Homeopathic medicine both make billions of dollars yearly without adding anything to the health of anyone, yet we have children going without basic medical care.

There are enough resources, the only problem is distribution. The redistribution of wealth is necessary, and it would be beneficial for the economy. This fact is obvious, but it's politically unacceptable to say. Again, the Right-wing has made arguments of this nature impossible, and the Left wing has given up before the battle started.

We have an economy that could provide healthcare and homes for every person, and a political "debate" that argues over how we should further victimize the poor.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ranking Elemental Powers

Ice, Fire, Earth, Water, Air, Light, Darkness

There are lots of theoretical "elements", I've just trimmed them to ones that aren't stupid. Ice is clearly the best; it's capable of stunning, slowing, and straight damage.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Swears are Boring

Is anyone else dissatisfied with our current repertoire of swear words? They're all about sacrilege, bodily waste, body parts, and sex.

I like the German "pig-dog". We need stuff like that.

PS. The Star Wars cartoon continues to be terrible. I don't see how people that (presumably) love Star Wars can be so contemptuous of its legacy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Institutional Incompetence

One of the causes of the fall of Rome was the Senate. Since various dynamic personalities, Causar, Pompey,  Sulla, Augustus, etc. had taken the tiller of Rome for a few centuries, the Roman Government lost the ability to take the tiller back. Instead of trying to take back the power of the state and institute new policies, they became interested in advancing their petty positions. Even when incompetent Emperors reigned, and in the various margins between dictators, the Senate was incapable of governing the nation.

I wonder if this is the situation we face in modern America. The members of Congress are incompetent to legislate: they don't write the bills, and their "debates" are simply for show. They fly back to their homes every weekend, destroying any sense of community or congeniality amongst Congressmen.

It's telling that a Republican Congress would criticize the President for not showing leadership on the budget battle. It's partially a political maneuver, but surely the Constitution-loving Republican Party know that budget bills must begin in the very House they control.

In Rome, the impetus for State actions fell to the Emperor. Today, it falls to corporations, particularly those that influence the political sphere through media or political donations. The Emperor, unless he was completely insane (sometimes true) had to keep the state functioning. Corporations have no such interest. There is no conflict of interest for a Coal company to undermine the foundations of our nation, so long as those running the company make money.

TF2 Beta Update

Pretty Sweet Beta update for TF2. Oddly, Valve seems to be more interested in showing their hands instead of actually implementing things, the reverse of their regular policy.

Finally bringing in a system to produce a recording of your previous life. One million points. I'm eagerly awaiting its actual implementation. Same thing for KOTH Badlands, which is supposedly available, but none of the servers can go to it with the new voting system. Other than a lack of Badlands, the new voting system is exactly what TF2 has needed for the past three years. Surprising it took this long to make, since it's the same as L4D's voting system.

I'm hoping they introduce the Detonator to regular TF2, it brings the Pyro closer to the good classes. Personally, I'd just make the detonation ability a pure buff to the Flare Gun, it's not like Pyro is overpowered. 20% explosive vulnerability is brutal.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

For Profit Medicine

Check out this article. The rest of this post isn't about that directly, it's just interesting news.

Medicine in America is a disaster, but privatizing is the source of the problem, not the solution. I think it would require a constitutional amendment, but the United States should provide healthcare to all Americans. No one should die of poverty, but for-profit medicine does just that.