Archive for the ‘war’ Category

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About the War in Georgia

August 11, 2008

It seems as if both sides are being assholes. Georgia invades South Osseta to reclaim a province that successfully broke away in 92. They attempted to use force to deny the Ossetans self-determination and independence. In other words, a real dick move.

And now Russia has used the Georgian offensive as a pretext to launch a massive counter-offensive that was nominally about liberating the South Ossetans, but is now clearly an expansionist landgrab as offers of cease-fire are flatly rejected and the fighting moves into Georgia proper.

Grave-voiced warnings about WW3 have become a tired from overuse in the past 7 years, so let’s hope the fighting stops in Georgia. If Russia expands their war to a general conquest of the former Soviet Union, things will get very scary very fast, and I’d hate to have to resort to cliche.

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Invisible Friends

January 17, 2008

I’m reading about the Crusades in one of my classes, and it has sparked some internal monologuing on the subject of religious wars. It seems to me that religious strife comes from a deep seated insecurity about the nature of one’s own beliefs. If it was a simple disagreement, I don’t see why differing religious theories would so regularly lead to violence. Controversies in science and art sometimes become bitter and personal, but they rarely lead to bloodshed. In fact I cannot think of a single time that an artistic or scientific disagreement even got near the mere threat of force, unless it was a disagreement between the scientists/artists on one side, and some very religious people on the other.

But religious disputes are different from art and science. On some unconscious level, people recognize the irrationality and inconsistencies of a belief in the divine, and in response they come up with ways to justify that belief. But when they encounter other people doing the same thing but in a different manner- and this might be particularly true for different denominations of the same faith- it can be terribly upsetting. The question that arises is: if the Word of God is so true and profound and universal, how come so many other people get it wrong? How is it that they arrive at these silly excuses they tell themselves to paper over the flaws in their beliefs, and how is it that they can believe so fervently in them?

How dare you claim your invisible friend is the one true invisible friend when it is so clearly obvious that my invisible friend is the one true invisible friend! Furthermore, I hate you for believing so fervently in your invisible friend, because your ability to rationalize your clearly delusional beliefs about him unsettles the strength of my belief in my own invisible friend; I recognize in your face the same incredulity I wear when I look at your church and your god and it tempts me to wonder if perhaps the points I make about you may apply equally to me. And for the sake of all the years and effort I have invested in my belief, I cannot allow that to happen.

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Behold My Brilliant Use of Subtle Metaphor!

October 2, 2007

So there was a group of us riding in a van down the highway. Recently, we’d had an argument over who would get to drive, but that was pretty much settled and done with.

Then some asshole rear-ended us, and a couple of us got hurt real bad. Later there would be some argument over whether or not we should have sold this guy a car several years ago in the first place, or if the driver should have seen him coming in the rear-view mirror, but for the moment, we were just pissed. So we take off after this guy and along the way we get on the phone and call a couple of our buddies out with us and we’re all chasing the bastard down the road, ramming him like he did to us. We got in a few good hits, and just when it looked like we were about to drive the son of a bitch right off the road, our driver saw a sign on the side of the road:

Alligator farm- 10 miles

The driver said to us, “Hey, since this guy is an asshole, let’s go drive into the alligator farm and start running over the alligators.”

And about half of us in our van, and most of the people our friend’s cars all said, “What the fuck are you smoking? Are you insane? These alligators have nothing to do with the man who rammed us.” Read the rest of this entry ?

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Dare I Hope?

September 5, 2007

So I was skimming across the Internets when I ran into a new trailer for a game I hadn’t heard about before, “Battlefield: Bad Company“. Now aside from it’s stupid name-colon: name, which would do much better to simply be chopped down to a simple “Bad Company”, virtually everything about this game looks promising. Yes, yes, it’s yet another modern/near future shooter featuring a hypothetical and ridiculously implausible shooting war featuring NATO’s whole Toy Chest of Doom, but there’s something else here that is promising. Something cynical.

Now the big marketing buzz the game is trying to go for is its fully destructive environments. Hm. Where have I heard that one before? Oh yeah, I remember playing this game before, back when it was called Red Faction. Or maybe I’m thinking of the other three-dozen games that promised us this in the last 6 years. Hell, maybe I’m thinking all the way back to fucking X-COM, which if I recall correctly featured a fun little toy called the Blaster Bomb which allowed the player to level entire maps to smoking rubble. I guess the point that is coming into focus here is that “fully destructible environments” just doesn’t have that magical zing it used to. We’ve heard that claim before, or even its successor “we really mean it this time!” on too many occasions to get real thrilled about it now.

So why am I still excited about this game if its primary selling point so far seems to be a marketing buzzword that no experienced gamer would get excited about in this day and age? Simple, the story. DICE, the development studio behind this game, are being coy with the particulars of the story so far, but what we do know is this: the player assumes the role of one member of a squad of disgruntled US Army troopers who decide to go into business for themselves in the middle of World War 3, apparently without telling the Army before hand. What they’re after hasn’t been explicitly laid out yet, but we do know it involves money and revenge.

This idea is fantastic on a couple levels. One, the developers seem to have been smart enough to realize that on the tail end of a loosing war is not the time to be telling stories about teary-eyed heroism and idealistic struggles, and that kind of intelligence bodes well for the game as a whole. Two, all great war stories are at their core tales about the very worst parts of human nature, and having your protagonists abandon their duty to go off in search of personal wealth as the starting point of the story is a promising early sign that whoever they hired to write this game’s script understands that. Three, if they pull this off correctly, DICE may succeed in creating the world’s first anti-war war-sim. If that happens, we’ll have one more compelling example to set beside BioShock (which I’ll be getting to in a later post) in favor of the argument that video games are taking their first tentative steps into becoming a full-fledged art form complete with their own standards of aesthetics and moral statements.

So to DICE I say, in the unlikely event that you read this: please don’t fuck up.