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Batman; A Lesson in Ethics

After a long day of quadratic equations, there is nothing more satisfying than planting an elbow in the spine of a psychotic junky clown. No, I’m not talking about harming any ICP fans. I’m talking about Batman versus the hordes of Joker’s deranged army.

Batman may just be a man with too much money and a haunting memory of his parents’ death, but he can also teach us something. Like how to loop a batarang around a corner of a room at an unsuspecting thug rendering them unconscious. Or that maybe, We The People, ought to take after Mr. Batman, and not compromise so damn quickly.

Batman HATES Insane Clown Posse

I say this because my mom, who is nearly 50, is disturbed by the fact that I still make time each week to squeeze in a few (or a few dozen) hours of gaming in between college and sleeping in until noon. In a way I am also disturbed. Every time I get that look from her that says “grow up” I find myself so willing to agree. But this is the same lifestyle that I’ve had since I was about 9. I can’t break that bond. I’m sorry Mom. I will probably never give you grandchildren either.

But this is the difference between me and Batman. If his parents weren’t murdered, I’m sure his Mom would have told him to stop climbing all over skyscrapers and roughhousing with the neighborhood criminals. You know what Batman would have said? “No.” Because Batman knows what is right. Batman has muthafuckin integrity. Furthermore, Batman doesn’t kill people. He just beats them to a pulp.

But what is Batman all about? Why did I just play Batman: Arkham City for seven hours straight?

I’ll tell you: You’re Bruce Wayne, a billionaire with a passion for Halloween and an obsession with bats. You live in a scary city that’s been transformed into a prison and is full of sketchy looking characters, mutants, and psychopaths. And… well…. Your Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman… your kind of a ninja… it’s sort of your job to beat the piss out of these people…

My point is, it’s a great game and I feel no shame playing it for so long. Maybe I’m just going crazy, but I feel like this game has a moral: Stick to your guns if you know what’s right. Now, I wasn’t enlightened on top of a Tibetan mountain, but I do have a sense of yin and yang, right and wrong, good and bad, liberal and conservative, etc. Often times though, when another view is asserted, I shy away, or I say something to the effect of “you have a point.” This is all wrong.

When Mister Freeze was looking for a cure for Batman (who was poisoned by the diabolical Joker), he had a change of heart. He decided Batman wasn’t worth it and told Batman off. Instead of dropping his shoulders and going back to the Bat cave, Batman grabbed Mister Freeze by the icicle and wiped his little blue face all over his cryogenics lab.

Batman does not flinch. Nor does he kill. I think this is a good lesson for America. (Yes, I’m going there.) When some whiny politically motivated douche gets in your face, ask yourself, “What would Batman Do?” You don’t have to throw a fist, but don’t back down.

And Mom, seriously, lighten up. At least this isn’t Grand Theft Auto 5. I still don’t know when that’s coming out. When it does, Batman will go out the window. Figurateively (because Batman does do a lot of literal window going-out-of).

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Dear Santa, You Suck

Christmas is here. And it has never sucked so hard.

My hatred for Christmas is coming on quite strong this year. There are just a few more days before the day itself arrives. In the meantime, painful visits with family occur, along with spending way too much money on gifts for people you don’t like.

I can’t pinpoint when Christmas was ruined for me, or how it was, but I think it has something to do with the myth of Santa being dispelled, and the mounting number of dollars I was spending each year on my parents, my sisters, my friends, and any small children my parent’s pressured me into “gifting.”

But at that age, I suppose Christmas was awesome. Christmas kicked ass. Breakfast was chocolates that came out of a stocking, and you got to play with a stockpile of brand new toys all day long – Not to mention the excitement of a fat man in a red suit jumping down your chimney.

You know what magic is and what it can do, but as a child, Santa Clause is the only person in the world you know of, that can use it. You have witnessed the magical act of Christmas morning suddenly appearing before you. It is more than just presents under the tree. Their appearance is magical, and the aura of the living room, with it’s Christmas lights left on from the night before, is beautiful.  It’s no wonder why kids get so excited; at that age, magic is real.

I remember when I was told the truth about Santa Clause. The look on my Mom’s face, and the tone in my Dad’s voice told me everything I didn’t want to know. Magic was not real. I would never become an astronaut or slay a dragon; Santa Clause did not exist and magic was stuff for little kids. My childhood grew a cancer then, and over the years, it slowly died.

Christmas was still a good thing even after I KNEW. Santa was a load of shit, and I gave my parents knowing winks during the ceremonial unwrapping of presents. It wasn’t until I actually had to pay for other people’s presents that I started to realize the brutality of the holiday season. The simple letter to Mom or Dad wouldn’t suffice. Nor would the “FREE COUPON FOR A BACK RUB.” I had to buy things now. With real money. And my parent’s weren’t going to give me that money.Snatch and grab Santa! Snatch and grab!

At first the presents I bought were cheap: necklaces, stuffed animals, a hat, etc. But after a while, they became more and more expensive, and I became more and more broke.

There is no joy in Christmas shopping. Most guys will tell you that they try and accomplish all of it within a 24 hour time frame. My general idea of a mall trip is similar to a tactical military insertion: Snatch and Grab. Any loose ends can be tied up along the way, ie a pair of ear rings for your girlfriend and the damn batteries for whichever useless electronic you bought at Radio Shack.

This is not how things get done though. At least not for me. I may own a Kindle, I may enjoy my vanilla soy lattes and even wear a sporty looking Columbia all weather jacket, but I am by no means a modern mall-going man. The mall does something to my brain that causes massive panic. It is an overstimulation of all my senses. To put it lightly, the moment I enter a mall, I feel like vomiting rainbows.

My idea of a Snatch and Grab is destroyed by the overpowering mind fuck of the mall. It has an extraordinary smell to it. This isn’t just during Christmas, but all times of the year. The thick smells of fried things drenched in sugar, body odor, cologne wafting out of Aeropostale, rubber and plastic MADE IN CHINA, chemical fragrances of janitorial cleaning supplies. It all swirls into the nostrils in one smell known as shopping smell.

To the ears and eyes, the mall is no less overwhelming, though it is less pleasant. It’s constant loop of Christmas music is a terrible thing to have to listen to again and again, but when it is combined with a plethora of screaming children, angry parents, annoying teenagers, and a disgruntled Santa Clause, the sound is unbearable. One thing I cannot stand is all the noise, noise, noise, nosie! Just like a little speck of Las Vegas landed on your hometown from outer space; it is just a giant neon sparkle, blinding in every direction and labeled with the very worst of consumerism.

 So, with sweat rolling down my forehead and an expression of utter terror on m face, I leave the mall with less than my very soul I walked in with. The mission a complete failure. My dignity and faith in humanity stripped.

This is adulthood, I suppose. The days when your physical prowess defined adulthood are long gone. Hell, the days when toil and labor defined adulthood are gone. Adulthood has become a commercial thing now.

I long for the day, when I can safely exile myself from my family (with diplomatic immunity), and pretend like Christmas no longer exists. Or at the very least, keep my money in my bank account and enjoy the holiday in other ways. Being secular doesn’t leave much room for me to be a good Christian, but I appreciate it still, and it is possible to celebrate love, good will, and happiness without losing your mind or all of your money.

Until then, Bah Humbug.

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Get Your Philosophy from a Bumper Sticker

I have grown more acquainted with today’s hipster.

Mind you, I live in a college town, so their long scarves and olive drab side bags are everywhere. I don’t care for them too much, but I do enjoy reading some of their bumper stickers.Today, I saw one that I hereby officially endorse as my personal mantra, and blogging slogan:

“Don’t Believe Everything You Think.”

No words can be truer. We are often deceitful of ourselves and where are heart lies, if only to fit in. A friend of mine (also under the hipster influence) told me yesterday a very good line as well: “Perception is reality.” I say this in light of the intense negativity, propaganda, and utter bullshit that has infiltrated all lives of the 21st century. Step outside yourself and ask yourself what you see and what you want.

Well said hipsters, well said.

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Same War Different Bill

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT OUR LIVES, OUR WORLDS, AND FOR A MINUTE, BE HONEST WITH OURSELVES.

How much does media dominate our lives? If your reading this post, it’s safe to say that it plays a significant role in the way you live, dress, eat, and think. Most importantly, how you think. The media – especially the news media – is an all around conflict of ideas, from every angle, that targets the human brain with misinformation.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been delving into the philosophy of that previous statement of information wars. Which is why the other week, when I read an article about the U.S. Senate hearing out a bill that will target Americans with military force, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I wasn’t worried.

According to some U.S. politicians, the world is a place of eternal conflict that we are all a part of. The “battlefield“, as it is described by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), has been in existence since I was in high school. I have, like many of my friends, grown up in this “battlefield.” So when I am told by extremely liberal media sources that the U.S. Constitution is being ripped from the people, that the economic crisis and false flag operations are all signs that the GOVERNMENT is TARGETING YOU, I am not surprised, nor am I scared.

When I was younger I heard some very clear words in George W. Bush’s address on September 20, 2001: “You are either with us or you are with the terrorists.” Those words pierced my brain like a diamond spear, and to this day, I am still unsure how to interpret them. Good ol’ Dubya certainly had a way with speaking people (that even my first journalism instructor would admit to, after he met the man in person). It was a way that made your spine shiver with devotion. But Hitler was also a good speaker. It was that speech, and those words, that made me see  the lines of this “battlefield.” The righteous, the good, the Christian, the American, the white-washed people of fortunate upbringing; and the corrupt, the evil, the Muslim, the terrorists, the gay, the anarchists, the Canadian, and the people of the Third World.

That view is extreme, and obviously the thoughts of someone who hasn’t done enough of their homework to appreciate fully what the former President was saying. But it was also obvious that each person was to participate in this Global War on Terror in some way. There were things that were happening in the U.S. government, that I was just beginning to understand. I knew what the Patriot Act was, and I knew what it meant.

The battlefield is not of guns and roadside bombs, snipers and mortars – at least not yet. It is a battle of information, where news networks, the CIA, NSA, and FBI, instil fear in the people. The so-called “unbiased” news is becoming a burden on people, where the opinions of the individual matter more to those who have the same idea. After all, no major news network will ever change the minds of people on a large scale.

Needless to say, the NDAA passed, 93 – 7. And because history is written by the victor, yes, the world is officially a battlefield (yay!). Acting out against the U.S. will eventually lead to your demise.

People are going to hear what they want to hear. InfoWars has a video about the  NDAA. Those Americans crazy enough to want to fight their own government in an open war (with guns, bombs, snipers and such…) will eat up the doomsday terror tone, load their shotguns, pack their beans, and start siphoning gas from their rich republican-voting neighbor. The same thing happened when Saddam Hussein was hiding his weapons of mass destruction.

My mom (who is a hippy) is constantly lecturing me about the laws of attraction. She tells me, “If you worry so much about something, then you can make it a reality…” or something like that. Assuming she is right, I think the fear of  government tyranny is becoming stronger as more people feed into it (I’m talking to you, Occupy protesters). Fear is the medias sharpest tool, after all. The media shows us civil unrest in American cities, war in Afghanistan, failing economies. With these things, we are scared into hiding under the wing of an institution.

Yes, we are all potential targets for USNORTHCOM now. But did anyone think they could get away with terrorist activities before? (Look at the foiled plots.) I have met government hackers and other Homeland Security agents before. They are always looking for terrorists or information that will lead them to terrorists. I only ask that people rethink their fears. No one has a gun to your head, and until then, viva la liberte.

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GOOD blog, BAD blog, HAPPY blog, SAD blog.

SINCE WHEN IS BLOGGING COMPASSIONATE?

A recent online debate I had with a friend over Veterans-Day inspired some questioning of societal norms. Blogging, for instance, has been one of those.

Quite...

The debate over Veterans-Day, involved me, an ex-Marine, and a fanatical liberal, became heated fast. On one side, the military was an evil, corrupt mechanism whose sole purpose was sheer destruction. On the other, it was  necessary, proud, and slightly romantic in America; taboo to bash.

Interesting that it seems taboo. Although, I stand on the military’s side (and because I am a dick), I am wont to rebel against those standards.

My first victim: blogging etiquette. Of course, one should always be polite… But please. I have read those “Freshly Pressed.”

Out of every five “Freshly Pressed” I read, one is funny, or informative (usually just funny though). I’m fine with that. It’s the comments they get. There are dozens of them and they are 90 percent useless blurbs.

There are good blogs out there. I know this, because they’re easy to find. These blogs are highly entertaining, informative – or at the least interesting. Who’s really interested in these anyway? Their titles: “Winter Hiking in Africa,” “Dinasaurus Rex,” “Mapleberyy Christmas,” etc.

A couple of them I read today, were brilliant. But brilliance equals zero comments. With this in mind we must dumb down our thoughts. Maybe I’m jealous of them. Maybe I just don’t truly understand the nature of the blogosphere. But what’s there to get? It’s an interweb within the internet; anything goes, it’s do-it-yourself,  and you can reach the entire world with a mouse click.

WAT

Thought this was hilarious looking.

I’m lost in this world like a guppie in the ocean. I find myself asking “who will read my blog?” when people are content with “Vintage Barbie Collection”. The worst part is, to confess these thoughts to those “Freshly Pressed” authors (the Worthless Blog Community in general), is to be shunned from their almighty status. Even if your comment is on some lonely far off blog, your comment still stands the test of moderation. This isn’t to say my blog is anything exceptional, and I’m not trying to sound righteous, because others may find mine just as worthless. I’m just straightening out the facts here, and at the same time vomiting some grief.

There is a lot of people out there – even more bloggers. Why are the most popular issues so pathetic? Several posts back, I discuss the Libyans. Their revolution was born on the backs of bloggers. In a time of political unrest, American bloggers are content with fluff stories. It’s upsetting.

We can be polite if we must, but let’s not feel so inclined to be nice. If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. ‘S all I’m sayin’.

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The Monster of Media

IN THE LAST TWO DECADES, THE MEDIA AND IT’S ASSOCIATED TECHNOLOGY HAS GROWN RAPIDLY:

Books, magazines, television, movies, news, the internet, and video-gaming have all become part of our everyday lives in this day and age. Due to the holiday surge of popular video-games released this month, I have been somewhat of a hermit. The most popular of these games are crafted with an undeniable sense of artwork.

More often video games are subject to film adaptations, book adaptations, prequels, sequels, comic books, other forms of continuation, and countless types of fan art. Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn series writes in the December issue of Gameinformer about expanding the stories of video-games through multimedia outlets. “Hybrid media, like we’re talking about here, should be less about making us experience the same story over and over, and more about expanding the story,” writes Sanderson. “More importantly, we already have a storytelling form (video-games) that is good at blending genres. It was built to blend genres,” he writes.

Gaming is no longer a simple time killing hobby. The days of breezing through Mario World, or playing a few rounds of Mortal Kombat II are through. Gaming is now opening doors in the media that inspire players to be creative, think and ask questions.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, released in 2009, allowed the player to gun down innocent Russian civilians in the “No Russian” mission. The basis for this was key to the story line: as an undercover CIA agent, you are tasked to infiltrate a Russian terrorist group and aid them in an attack on a Russian airport. Although games such as Grand Theft Auto allow the killing of innocents, Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian” was serious, politically motivated, realistic, and disturbing (yet I played it over and over again).

A scene from "No Russian."

Everyone remembers the stink caused by Grand Theft Auto 3. A game centered around committing crime was sending the wrong idea for children. Not to mention it involved prostitution, and later in the series, drunk driving. But in all fairness, film contains worse things. The release of the Tom Clancy-esque Call of Duty games has solidified the fact that not all games are suited for children. In fact, most children won’t understand the themes of these games to begin with.

Which brings me to my next point: Rainbow 6. Ubiosoft’s Tom Clancy inspired Rainbow 6 games were once a dominating force in tactical, SWAT styled first person shooters (FPS). The original one was the first computer game I ever owned. In the December issue of Gameinformer, Matt Bertz and Jeff Cork released a sneak peek at Ubisofts newest development: Rainbow 6 Patriots. The article’s cover page is a blood-red, blindfolded Statue of Liberty. The headline: “AMERICANS ARE ANGRY”, this is gonna be good…Pretty much amazing.

As the world changes, media changes. In the article, Ubisoft acknowledges that players familiar with FPS’s are tiresome with fighting off Nazis, Russians, and foreign terrorists. So they chose a storyline that hits close to home. The first few paragraphs I read sounded like an opinion piece from a newspaper,  rather than an article on a video-game. They cite the failing economy, the growing despair of Americans on both sides of the political spectrum, and the rise in paramilitary groups and militias around the country. In the game you experience a violent political and social revolution where you are in the position to kill fellow countrymen. This sort of game raises serious ethical questions about what is allowed in Media, and how we experience it, as well as what direction America is heading in.

Last years release of Medal of Honor 2 caused a similar fuss, especially in military communities. In that game, players were allowed to play as Taliban forces and fight American troops. AAFES (Post Exchange) wouldn’t even allow copies to be sold in their stores. Another game, Homefront, also saw the killing of Americans (during a fictional North Korean invasion).

In my own opinion, these multimedia regulations are slop. Books, film, games, etc. are all just the main ingredients for a multimedia soup where the internet is the broth that brings them together. To restrict one without the other due to content would be unfair. I congratulate Ubisoft for being so bold. It may inspire interest in politics amongst young people – hopefully not violence. It allows those without imagination to view the world in a different light.

What are morals?

Brandon Sanderson seems to think that video-gaming is the future of entertainment. But it is hard for me to imagine everyone, young and old, glued to their favorite game console. Gaming simply isn’t for everyone. I do think that the craft of video-gaming is advancing in ways that were never thought practical. The story, whether it is fictional, or non-fictional is becoming interactive, not just in video-games, but in movies and ebooks. Could you imagine being able to interact with a news article? That’s a little farfetched I know, but it could be the future of how we entertain and inform ourselves.

As far as ethics go, I was born into the age of the internet; My human anatomy teacher was Rotten.com, and my sex ed teacher was Nakedchicks.com. The encyclopedia is Google. I played Ghost Recon so much, that I decided to join the Army. To say the least, me and many others from my generation have successfully desensitized ourselves from the media. Anything goes.

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True Rebellion; Occupy Gamestop

Revolutions and civil disobedience are conventional forms of rebellion, but the best form of political dissent is plain old apathy.

Welcome to America, have a molotov.

Why, you ask? Because being passionate, actively involved, and hopeful, causes solutions to our political affairs. I’m not a simple rebel. No, I’m much more complex. I’m a rebel within a rebel. I’m destroying the idea that in order to be politically active, you must take advantage of your rights. It’s no easy fight though… especially when you consider the past few weeks.

Being apathetic, requires a lot of down time. A little too much down time, if you ask me. In fact, with the release of Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim, and Monday’s release of Assassins Creed: Revelations, I’ve had a hard time keeping up. Video game season has hit everyone in full force this year.

Just a couple weeks ago, I bought the new Batman: Arkham City game, thinking it would be fun, and long enough to hold me over through the college quarter. But I had another thing coming. Modern Warfare 3’s release had me playing it till 8 o’ clock in the morning for about three days straight. And Skyrim’s release has had me glued to the T.V. since it came out at midnight last night.

Just an excuse to look at pictures of superheros.

So many amazing video games are being released all at once, that even the most intense (and often overweight) players are having a hard time keeping up. I like to corelate today’s issues with those of the past because nothing has changed. The long lines outside of Gamestop in the dead of night in the freezing cold, waiting to be  called inside; standing outside a canning factory in Chicago during winter in the 20’s, begging for work.

And those lines can get violent too (the Gamestop ones). The Great Depression may have been a fiercely competitive time for workers, but the midnight release of Skyrim was a violent free-for-all in the store parking lots. Hoardes of people dressed like Harry Potter, or Vikings, bitterly arguing in the cold, about which Lord of the Rings book was better. Sometimes it came to blows (or noodle-armed slaps). It was mostly passive, but I couldn’t help but worry about what would happen if the registers went down. Or what if someone just got a little too anxious? Would it resort to violence? Would my pre-ordered copy of the game still make it into my hands tonight? Thankfully it did.

All the while I was there though, I couldn’t help but judge them. In their capes, and plastic knight’s helmets. A girl had gone so far as to dress like a lizard (and somehow made it look sexy – is that weird?). No matter how far apart I stood from them, or how many cigarettes I smoked, or how col I actually looked, I couldn’t escape the fact that I was still there, with all of them. One of the masses. The 99% essentially. I wasn’t mad, but I was definitely ashamed. I turned my hood up, and stared at the ground, and hoped to God, no one I knew would see me. But of course, people I know did see me… at 1 o’ clock a.m. …. at a Walmart parking lot….. next to Gamestop…. (sigh)….

It's awesome and you know it!

Not that it mattered who saw me. The friends I saw were their for the same reason as me: Skyrim. It’s actually strange that I would be ashamed of such a quest… (Yes. Quest. Gotta problem?) I mean, I’ve grown up in the video game generation along with my friends. I live in a semi-secluded rural community. What else am I going to do? Play baseball?

In some cases I would like to play baseball. Skyrim cost me $65. The same with any of the other brand new games that have recently popped up. The hundreds of people waiting at the store to buy those games are all going to pay that same price, and maybe then some extra for a gaming manual or controller. 300 people buying a $65 dollar game is an easy $18 thousand for that particular store we were at. This isn’t including the other stores that are also offering a midnight release.

Activision sold 6.5 million copies of Modern Warfare 3 in the first 24 hours and made more than $400 million in sales in the U.S. and Brittain alone. Sales for Skyrim aren’t available, but I imagine their just trailing behind Modern Warfare 3, and probably beating Battlefield 3. Supposedly the American economy is failing.

I hate to say it, but this stuff fascinates me. I’m a huge gamer nerd and this November has been a gamer’s wet dream come true. Every now and then, it’s good to put down the newspaper, and instead of fussing about the world, you can forget about it. REBEL for America! REBEL for Skyrim!

 

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