jackscarab: (Default)
So my grandma did something dumb recently. Possibly dimentia-related. I've now found out what that is.

First let me back up a bit. She, essentially blind and Parkinson's-riddled yet a naturally social person, has been cooped up at home with her nigh-immobile husband for a frustratingly long time. She evidently tried packing her things to get up and leave a few times in the past, but couldn't muster the energy or will to ditch the place.

Well, last week she decided she finally had enough of sitting around watching news and movies all day and wanted to leave.

She took the keys to their giant truck and tried to drive it away. Imagine it. An age-shriveled Bilboesque woman fumbling for the keys and likely dropping them repeatedly, planning to go... where, exactly? None know.

Her truck plans failed, thankfully. Undaunted, she tottered out into the neighborhood, luckily staying out of the street. She got five houses down before a neighbor noticed her and asked what was up. The neighbor took her inside, and a couple concerned phone calls later she was in a psychiatric hospital with her doctor. There she rests as I type this, waiting to move to an assisted living facility.

So this weekend we're going to stop by and say hello, while wondering what precisely will become of her house and the things in it.

At least she'll be around more people now.
jackscarab: (Default)
So my grandmother had another dimentia episode. It caused her to re-evaluate her living arrangements. This time next week she'll be in an assisted living place.

Everyone concerned is saying "It's about damn time," so I will too.

Imagine if you will, a blind old woman tottering about her house. She can stand and move without inordinate effort and pain, which is more than can be said of her husband of about a decade, so the bulk of manual labor about the house -- fetching the mail, answering the door -- is done by her. She, who is so short of sight that she would fumble for nearly a full minute with locating and using the key to her front door when visitors such as Meals On Wheels or her relatives would arrive. She, a very social woman whose main daily activities have gradually shrunk to migrating from bedroom to sitting room for hours of television and movies with said nigh-immobile husband.

That is the sort of situation for which assisted living exists.

She's finally taking advantage of it, which is good, since her son and daughter have been on her to seek it for years now.

When my mom told me all this over the phone, she promised with a laugh that she wouldn't put my sister or I through that sort of reluctance when she "gets of an age" to need help living.

Hopefully by then we'll have some of Japan's elderly-assistance robots.
jackscarab: (what)
I've had some interesting random squadmates in ME3 Multiplayer.

My previous favorite was a talkative Russian guy who I couldn't understand at all, except for a word that sounded like "koorlrlrlrlrlrl" (rolling Rs) -- which, given the context, must be Russian for "Bullshit!"

My new favorite is a pair of chatty older gentlemen.

I only entered their game for a few moments before the host quit. Neither of them could have been a day under fifty. One sounded exactly like an 80+ co-worker I once had. The other had a slight Southern drawl. Both complained loudly about whether another player's gun could have fired three shots per reload -- presumably a Widow v. Black Widow confusion. They assumed the phantom player was cheating.

They were both playing as asari.

Video game fans are a diverse bunch.
jackscarab: (Default)
So hey, my maternal grandmother might have dementia.

She's had Parkinson's for quite a while now. Evidently it can cause issues in parts of the brain besides motor control, and it seems it has, with her.

I'm told that she hallucinated my sister standing next to her, once, when said sister was at home here, some two hours away.

She hallucinated me, too, recently. She became fraught with worry that I might hurt myself, because I was way up in a tree in her yard, pruning a branch. I was neither in her tree nor in her city at the time.

I have three remaining blood-relation grandparents, and the Suspected Order of Death (which we keep behind their backs) involves her checking out first. Maybe this is the beginning of it.

So it goes.
jackscarab: (Default)
So.

Much could be said about a story with a headline which could be rendered as "Consumerist Readers Vote EA Worst Company in America," especially when that vote is Internet-based, and especially when the announcement came with this stinger:

"Traditionally, the Poo has been delivered on its little red pillow. But this year, we'll give EA three different color options for its pillow, though in the end it's still the same old Poo."

Yes, Mass Effect 3 had something to do with EA beating out companies like Bank of America for "worst," but the terrible ending of a major game trilogy is not enough to bring out over 160,000 voters.

Even if I'm wrong and it is, EA's practices of maintaining high prices and slicing out portions of completed games to be sold as DLC speak to what the article says in the beginning:

"... Consumerist readers ultimately decided that the type of greed exhibited by EA, which is supposed to be making the world a more fun place, is worse than Bank of America's avarice, which some would argue is the entire point of operating a bank."

Do not forget that this is a poll in which all participants were 1). online 2). Consumerist readers 3). who wanted to answer a poll. It is not a highly representative group.

The most important take-away from the poll, for me, is what Consumerist readers prioritize -- and that is not a bad thing. It is not indicative of immaturity, or entitlement, or whatever else. It's a matter of opinion on a very, very basic subject.

Let me try to explain...

The best book I ever read, Terry Pratchett's Nation, takes place mostly on a South Pacific island inhabited by indigenous peoples. The men and women have their own parts of the island, where they live and work and farm. Pratchett described their respective agricultural practices like this:

The Nation grew the big crops in the large field. That was where you found aharo, sugarcane, tabor, boomerang peas, and black corn. There men grew the things that made you live.

In the Place, the gardens of the women grew the things that made the living enjoyable, possible, and longer: spices and fruits and chewing roots. They had ways of making crops grow bigger or more tasty. They dug up or traded plants and brought them here, and knew the secrets of seeds and pods and things. They raised pink bananas here and rare plantains and yams, including the jumping yam. They also grew medicines here, and babies.

Now:

Imagine that one day both the men and the women, as sole stewards of their respective crops, demanded high prices for poor quality goods by unfair and aggravating practices. You buy something from both the men and the women. If both groups were equally greedy and slipshod, which one would sting you the most when you made your purchase? Toward whom would you feel the most resentment?

It is my hypothesis, perhaps unprovable, that the majority of the people who would resent the women would vote EA as "America's worst company" over Bank of America.

EA's services as a video game purveyor are not strictly necessary. They do not "make you live" in the same way as Bank of America's money-keeping, money-lending and mortgage-holding. For a very large number of people, however, video games make life "enjoyable, possible, and longer," and so EA's corporate squeeze is felt more tenderly.

Bank of America makes buying and owning a house a pricey, unfair, annoying process. EA makes enjoying a leading form of life-toleratingly good entertainment anywhere a pricey, unfair, annoying process. The result of the Consumerist poll is nothing but the space between what its online readers believe is more dastardly: greed in a major bank, or greed in a major entertainment company.

Do I agree with the result? Hell no, because EA never tricked people into homelessness, and because plenty of non-EA video games exist. But that doesn't mean I don't understand and sympathize with the winning voters.

Life is much lesser without the things which make it fun. The poll result is nothing but a statement to that effect.

Hopefully EA will take that as a reminder that they are stewards of something important for so many people.
jackscarab: (Asplode)
I have an odd relationship with most movies, cartoons, comics, and video games. Here it is:

Very rarely is the lead protagonist my favorite character. There's always some fatal disconnect or supporting-character overshadowing. To the best of my recollection, I can count all of them on one hand and have a thumb left over.

Two episodes in, Korra now occupies that thumb.

Yes, the first two episodes of The Legend of Korra are now online, and they aren't illegal leaks this time.

It is worth seeing.

Does it explain everything that happened in the seventy years since The Last Airbender? No, and it doesn't need to. Enough is said and shown for satisfaction. If they never say another word about the previous cast, I'll be fine.

The show officially starts in three weeks, on April 14th, 10:00 AM Central (but who's counting).

I will be watching it.
jackscarab: (Magical Truthsaying Bastard)
So Kate Covington put lyrics to the Chrono Trigger epilogue theme.

And sang them, of course.

Because she is awesome like that.

jackscarab: (Asplode)
The first time I heard of The Hunger Games, I was subbing a lower-ability English class and reading/listening to it on tape. From the chapter I read, which was toward the end, and the rest of the book I skimmed, I was intrigued. Not enough to pick the book up myself, but enough to understand that this was going to be a Thing.

I saw the movie today, and so I finally caught the remaining 90% of the story.

I can only hope the book was as good as the movie.

From a screenwriting standpoint, that was among the tightest yet most well-paced movies I've seen in years. Not a single scene was wasted. Not a single line was wasted. And strictly visually, not one bit of gold eyeliner, or garish probably-accurate-take-on-future-nobility formal wear, or obliquely sinister beard-curve was wasted. I was impressed and enthralled.

Seriously, I sorted through my ticket stubs to find the last thing I'd seen that impressed me to the same extent, and I landed on Scott Pilgrim.

Nothing was presented that I didn't get, because everything was presented in an informative way. Coming from a point of mostly ignorance, I left the theater with exactly two questions: "Is the book really that good?" and "Can I see more, right now?"

Katniss herself was great, and well-cast. I understand there was some controversy over whitewashing her, which I have to take at face value since I didn't read most of the book, but rest assured they didn't just give Alice or Dorothy a bow and sick her in the woods. She comes across as a very capable and highly knowledgeable rural marksman surviving against nature and Future Ameri-Roman culture with the same tenacity if not practice in both.

And I hope to see more of her soon.
jackscarab: (Hmm.)
One of the co-founders of Bioware has spoken about the reaction to Mass Effect 3's ending.

It's a well-constructed response to the Great Non-Kony Internet Shitstorm of March 2012, explaining at length that they value all constructive feedback, but that's not why I find it extraordinary.

This paragraph here is the remarkable thing:
Building on their research, Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey. You’ll hear more on this in April. We’re working hard to maintain the right balance between the artistic integrity of the original story while addressing the fan feedback we’ve received. This is in addition to our existing plan to continue providing new Mass Effect content and new full games, so rest assured that your journey in the Mass Effect universe can, and will, continue.

Let's look at that.

"A number of game content initiatives" is the most political way of saying "DLC" I've ever seen. And that's okay; DLC was as inevitable as the Reaper invasion, yet far more welcome. I want more, and expected more. It isn't earth-shaking.

But the fact that Bioware is/are actively listening to feedback in an effort to address stumbles and faceplants they've made in the conclusion of a narrative is somewhat new to the relationship between video game consumers and producers, is it not?

They are completely within their rights to say "No, the ending is what it is, we spent more time and money than you can ever realize on it, and furthermore, fuck you." But they are not. They want to do right by the fans. They are making an effort and taking pains to make the best artistic narrative entertainment product they can -- after its release -- and at the same time telling us all that they are not by any means done with the franchise.

When was the last time that happened, for any video game?

The nearest thing I can recall is the head of Square-Enix apologizing for Final Fantasy 14 and then devoting two years of his company's time and wealth to remaking it.

Square-Enix earned a lot of my respect for that.

And now Bioware has similar amounts, no matter how they resolve it.
jackscarab: (Default)
Okay, so.

I've slept less than I needed to, but I've slept. And thought.

And so:
Mass Effect 3. )
And... that's about all I have right now. I may think of more later. If it's important, I'll put it here.

Now I have still more things to do before I break into multiplayer again.
jackscarab: (Default)
So hey, there was a vote yesterday!

I couldn't vote since it was a Republican primary, but it's my understanding that Mitt Inevitable won most states, and Rick Santorum won Oklahoma.

Yes, Santorum came sweeping down the plains.

The hazmat teams are working around the clock.

But seriously, something important actually happened: Dennis Kucinich was defeated in his primary.

Kucinich, if you were not aware, is just about the most progressive member of Congress. He's at least in the top three.

The good news is that he was defeated by someone who appears to be just as progressive.

The bad news is that he was defeated at all, because Republicans carefully redistricted Ohio in such a way as to eliminate one of the most progressive members of Congress. Yes, he was that much of a thorn to them. He was gerrymandered out of his career.

What next? Well, he could move somewhere else and try again in the next election. He >could've done that this year, in fact, but he didn't want to abandon his constituents.

And there we see the greatest weakness of progressives: they care too much. Republicans will forever exploit that weakness, because they just do not give a living damn about anything but personal victory and personal wealth, both of which they gain by fealty to corporations above constitutions.

Fortunately, they are being punished in such a way that gives credence to the notion of karma: they are going to have Mitt Romney as their Presidential nominee.
jackscarab: (Magical Truthsaying Bastard)
For interested parties:

Aether Torrent episode 16 is now revised to be presentable.

Now I can hurl myself into video games without worry.
jackscarab: (Sideways tree)
Featuring Keith David.

jackscarab: (Default)
Commander Sir Samuel Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch once had a Theory of Economic Injustice. Put simply, a poor person can end up spending much more for something over a long period of time than a rich person. That is because a poor person can only buy things cheaply, so things must often be bought again. A rich person, by contrast, can afford the up-front cost of something that lasts for a very long time.

Vimes used the example of boots for his theory.

Computer accessories apply too.

And so with that theory in mind, today I went to Best Buy and bought the most comfortable headset I've ever owned. I'll have this thing around for years, because it is the only headset I've used which 1). fits 2). my giant head 3). comfortably. And so it is the only headset which I feel I could use instead of my desktop speakers (which are Bose -- another investment of remarkable duration and quality).

And the microphone seems to work too. Which is a plus for various multiplayer things.
jackscarab: (Magical Truthsaying Bastard)
So today I got bored and made a picture.

9000 hours in MSPaint )
jackscarab: (Hmm.)
Interesting thing from Wired: the phenomenon of self-domestication in nature, using the typical example of bonobos among others.

There's no really new information there, if you've seen enough nature shows, but I still enjoy stories like that. Stories that give scientific basis to the idea that evolution and circumstance can eventually render aggression useless.

“At very high densities, it becomes impossible to defend anything,” said Judy Stamps, the University of California, Davis evolutionary ecologist who studied how behaviors change on islands. “In that situation, the animals might as well just relax. Instead of competing aggressively, animals might begin to cooperate with each other.”


There are worse fates for a species than genetic predisposition toward community and cooperation.
jackscarab: (what)
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business-tech/science/120203/alien-lake-vostok-russia-science-exploration-antarctica

"Russian scientists preparing to explore the "most alien lake on Earth," Lake Vostok, have reportedly not been in touch with American colleagues in over five days.

Vostok, buried over two miles — or 13,000 feet — beneath the great Antarctic ice sheet, is one of the world's largest lakes. However, it hasn't been exposed to air in more than 20 million years, Fox News reported. [...]"


Don't worry, Russia, I'm sure the Katsuragi team will find them.
jackscarab: (Magical Truthsaying Bastard)
Okay.

I'm about to embed a trailer for a movie which is coming out this year. It's for God Bless America, written and directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait. It's about an average man with a terminal illness who decides to gun down every source of idiocy and jerkishness in society, with the help of a teenage girl he befriends.

(It's a comedy.)

There is a certain kind of controversy already around it. The exact kind is, to me, unexpected.

As you watch, if you'd like to watch, pay close attention and try to guess what the Problem is.



Done?

Can you guess what most of the Youtube comments are about?

And the answer is... )
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