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Posts posted by itsamoose

  1. 6 hours ago, Cordeos said:

    The problem more generally is that there is no room for people with genuine beliefs in the world of South Park. Everyone has ulterior motives.


    This is a fantastic observation, but I'd put a slight twist on it.  It's not that South Park isn't interested in people with genuine beliefs, it's that they tend to get crowded out by those with ulterior motives.  Most of the episodes have a character (usually Kyle) who presents the moral of the episode in a genuine way.  In almost all cases this character is almost immediately passed over, ignored, or looked at skeptically to the point where their position is as well.  I agree that this can be a problem, but I have a hard time saying it's a bad aspect of the show because it seems to be their major critique of modern society.  That this can lead to a "Issue X wouldn't be a problem if group Y would just shut up about it" sort of idea that's become more prevalent lately.  It's not that genuine beliefs don't exist, it's that they are almost always sullied by people with ulterior motives, to the point where people who would otherwise support those ideas become skeptical of them, or outright hostile to them.  Now certainly South Park is not the first show to make this observation, but I think they do quite a good job of poking fun at it.


  2. 2 hours ago, Professor Video Games said:

    Sorry but I really hate those "actually both sides are bad" sorts of arguments. Like what is that Columbus example you cited trying to say? How dare "PC culture" call out a garbage holiday and actually no, I am the racist for wanting to eliminate it? That Columbus was good, actually? Yeah there are plenty of people out there who just parrot talking points or whatever, but it doesn't make what they say wrong. Also, "having an opinion" these days is a term mainly used by the right to be mockingly dismissive of people that are challenging a pro-straight/white status quo and I'd be real hesitant to ever seriously use it.


    I agree with your sentiment here, and in my view this isn't the point South Park is making with the Columbus episode. But, rather than beat the devil around the stump (a phrase I recently learned that is just too damn weird to not use at least once in my life), it might be best to just check out the episode and decide for yourself.  Unfortunately it looks like this particular episode isn't available online at the moment, but if you're willing I'd imagine it can be picked up on a streaming service (The episode is called "Holiday Special" and took place in the 21st season).  If that isn't possible, a summary of the episode can be found on wikipedia.


    For once the episode has been seen, below are my thoughts.  Now given that I'm someone who enjoys south park, I would greatly appreciate anyone who does not like the show giving their thoughts on it.




    Like most South Park episodes, the A and B plot are more about the motives of the participants than the issue itself.  Randy is primarily interested in crafting the myth of himself as a progressive hero, and Cartman really just doesn't want to go to school.  This is best described in the scene where Randy attacks a native american man while dressed in full Columbus garb, where his concern isn't that he just violated another human being, but that people might see him for what he is.  To Randy progressive opinion is not a view to be held, but a weapon to be wielded.  His entire quest throughout the episode is to find a way to use empathy as a means to power.  With this arc, South Park seems to be poking fun at liberals who are loud and proud on social media, but don't make meaningful changes in their own lives to reflect their stated views.  Cartman on the other hand is only interested in getting a day off school, and in the pursuit of this is willing to adopt any viewpoint to further that cause.  He willingly sides with bigoted viewpoints, and in turn sells that bigotry as a means for the other children to receive some benefit in their lives.  The source of the humor, at least in my reading, is not that both sides are being ridiculous about a holiday, but that the sentiments about the holiday are being employed by these two characters to further some other end.  In this way, the episode to me seems to be more about the filter of social media, and how we use it in our lives.  We're so willing to lose ourselves in sensational characters like Randy that we any attempt at a meanginful discussion ends up getting drowned out.  Even though Randy does the right thing in the end, it is in service of him being seen as a hero for doing so.  He does it for the wrong reasons and in a way that allows him to forgo any introspection.  We get the sense that while some progress may have been made, nothing has really been solved, and the next time a similar controversy comes up we're going to do it all over again.


    Also one last thing before I go, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy partaking in this community.  I know it's helped me develop my own views, and I genuinely value the input of people who disagree with me, even vehemently so.




  3. @Beasteh 

    I think you put it better than I did regarding the "Doubling Down" episode, the idea of the regretful Trump Voter has been a recurring theme in the last season particularly in the episode "It's up to the whites".  I intended to use the term "bigotry" in the literal sense (as in separate from prejudice), but upon a second reading I don't think that came across very well.  My intention was not to suggest these people be coddled, but that their ideas be challenged in a way that doesn't rob them of their humanity.  I would still argue that South Park's main source of conflict has to do with how people act when they don't see eye to eye, and is not necessarily about the specifics of their differences, but the public vs. private behavior dynamic is also a prevalent theme.


    Also thanks for the recommendation on the youtube series, I'll have to check that out.  I must admit I was someone who was quick to call people names in the past, and after watching a ted talk by Megan Phelps-Roper (a woman who grew up in the Westboro Baptist church and later left) my opinions on how to deal with difference of opinion changed drastically.

  4. 7 minutes ago, Patrick R said:

    I believe the ideas that bigot's feelings are worth protecting or that people pushing against bigotry are the cause of it are capital B Bad Ideas.


    To put it bluntly, I think this sort of sentiment is exactly what South Park seems to be calling out.  Let's take an example.  Say we have a young man, let's call him Jim.  Jim recognizes that something is out of sorts with the world, but can't quite articulate what or why.  So he goes looking for answers.  Now like most of us, Jim will be drawn to sensational characters and antics who carry with them undoubtedly toxic ideas.  But Jim doesn't see them as toxic, to him they are absurd, but this being his first foray into understanding, platitudes and double talk seem like wisdom.  Maybe the likes of Alex Jones and his ilk don't know everything, but he agrees with enough of what they say.  Jim's mood starts to improve.  For once, he feels like he's learning, his imagination is stimulated and is open to new ideas.  Then Jim goes out into the world and repeats the ideas he's heard only to be met with anger.  He's called names, accused of things he doesn't necessarily think, and is told not that his ideas are bad but that he's a bad person.  Jim isn't having it though.  Jim knows the truth, because he's only ever been given it by one side.  Where Jim was once inquisitive, he's now closed himself off.


    Bigotry is not a character trait.  The condition is temporary, the product of inaccurate knowledge or simply a lack of it.  Plenty of people have been bigoted in the past and are no longer, or vice versa.  The inability to see past changeable opinions and make them immutable isn't the cause of bigotry, but it certainly doesn't help.  I've known some legitimately hateful people in my life, and I've never known a single one of them to change their views because someone called them a bigot.  It's not that pushing against bigotry that is bad, it's conflating the person with the idea that has the real potential to do harm.  It's comforting to think that all bigotry is the result of purposeful, malicious intent, and while some certainly is, a significant amount is not.  The goal must be to provide a better alternative, and to do that we must consider the evidence and speak to the position.  This I think is the point of South Park in recent years.  Not that we should put up with these things or protect them in some way, but that not all resistance to them is beneficial.

  5. 12 hours ago, Patrick R said:

    How aggressive should one's opposition to bigotry be? This is a strange sentence to me.


    Well I think the point of the show is not so much that you alienate the person, further isolating them and enforcing that mindset.  I mean yes, that sort of behavior does need to be pointed out but if the mechanism for doing that is belittling someone, calling them names, laughing at them, etc, you're more likely to have the opposite effect.  This is a pretty common theme in the most recent season, but they put a pretty fine point on it in an episode called "Doubling Down".  Recently a lot of South Park's subject matter has to do with the idea that how you do something can make all the difference.

  6. On 3/4/2018 at 10:17 AM, marginalgloss said:

    But I was thinking the other day about Isaac Hayes in relation to South Park. It's so weird that one of the most important funk/soul musicians of his era had this second life as a character in a TV show where a big part of the audience probably had no idea who he was. And for a while it was great but then I remembered how he left and I felt very depressed by the whole thing. After he quit it felt like they threw him under the bus by killing off Chef in a particularly gross and egregious way when Hayes wasn't in the best of health and there was still some confusion about exactly what he had and hadn't said. Was that punching up or was it just making some quick comedy capital out of a bit of controversy? I don't know. Everything about it just seems really sad to me now.


    This was something I remember hearing about a while back, but it turns out the reason was likely that he was coerced by scientology:


    I got back into south park about a year go, I went back and watched the last few seasons and have quite enjoyed it.  For anyone interested in seeing what modern south park looks like, I'd recommend starting with season 19 where they introduce a character called PC principal.  That season starts out like you'd expect, but then quickly becomes somewhat of a meta commentary on the show and it's place in culture.  This is the season where South Park's narrative became overtly serialized, and their social commentary became more direct and expansive.  Interestingly enough, this also seems to be the point at which south park started criticizing it's own audience in some respects.  Perhaps this is something I missed out on when watching the show when I was younger, but what south park does at it's best is criticize behavior.  Of course the ridiculous antics of the show are still present, but the show's jokes seem to be more purposeful and pointed as of late.  In my view South Park went from being a show making fun of bigotry to one who points out how bigotry develops, particularly in the face of overly aggressive opposition to it.

  7. I quite enjoyed infinity war as a series of vignettes more than anything else.  A bit of my frustration with it was that Marvel just wasn't willing to let anyone be a background character, so some of the threads tend to either wear out their welcome or make jumps that didn't feel earned.  The perspective of the film jumps around so much that a couple of times I would need a few seconds during the transition shots to think to myself "now who is in this place again?".


    On the other hand I did quite appreciate the focus on Thanos, the scenes with him I think tended to work the best if only because his overall arc was cohesive.  The 3 plot lines on the protagonist side (Thor's hammer quest, Cap/Black Panther's military alliance stuff and Dr. Strange/Iron Man's mind games) felt like they existed completely independent of one another.  The heroes seemed to occupy the same space more so than work together.  This sort of scatterbrained plot structure made it feel like the stakes were way lower than they otherwise would have been.

  8. On 2/28/2018 at 10:16 AM, brkl said:

    I also saw Altered Carbon, which has some pretty nice visuals and intriguing concepts, but steadily gets worse as the show goes on. It's never quite as bad, but it's pretty bad towards the end. First episodes are great.


    This is a perfect description of my experience with Altered Carbon as well, at it's best it sort of feels like the darker version of stark trek that the series proper has a hard time getting right.  There are some genuinely fantastic scenes and scenarios presented in the show, but it does feel like it dawdles a bit toward the middle-end.  In particular:

    The scene where Bancroft goes and visits the descendants of people who died from a plague was such an incredible sequence.  It was one of the few times we get to see the sleeve technology being used for something other than warfare or crime, and how it might affect people's lives in other ways.  Having the world's richest man going on this humanitarian mission with such overtly sinister overtones is probably the best social commentary I've ever seen in science fiction.


  9. Not to harp on this point too much, it's just that this structure is to me perhaps the most interesting thing about the film.  If you look at the typical blockbuster framework it goes


    1) Introduce characters and conflict

    2) Blow up death star

    3) Big party


    In the last Jedi however, the universe's equivalent to the death star is blown up in the first 10 minutes, only for the film to make the point that the first order isn't just one massive ship that can be blown up.  I hope that, if anything, big budget action movies going forward will have an example that proves you don't need to follow the same old structure and can try some new things.

  10. 5 hours ago, TychoCelchuuu said:

    I know you're joking, but because @itsamoose took you seriously, it's worth pointing out that of course there could be no such phrase as "Pyrrhic failure" because that would be redundant - if it's Pyrrhic, it's already a failure.


    The point I was trying to make is that the movie takes a very specific view of people's actions, and to simply say it was about failure generally is to me a misreading.  The action of the film in my view doesn't support the idea of it being about failure broadly and is instead about a specific mode of action.  It has more in common with an argument about the lives of innocent private contractors on the death star than it does any mainline star wars film.  I get Ben's comment was made jokingly--I contend that the distinction the film makes between costly victory and failure is more profound than a matter of semantics.  The actions the movie frames as heroic are the ones made in the service of others without burdening them with the consequences, and the ones it frames as villainous or unheroic are those made for others where the decision maker isn't made to shoulder the responsibility.

  11. 4 hours ago, TychoCelchuuu said:

    "They're not failures, they're pyrrhic victories" is just wordplay. Pyrrhic victories are failures. That's why they're pyrrhic victories and not normal victories. And nobody has ever said the movie only has failures. Obviously there are some victories too. The point is just that the movie's main theme is about failure. So all the stuff you say about the very end is neither here nor there. Obviously that victory is a good one.


    I wouldn't agree here.  As Ben X points out, a Pyrrhic victory still results in a net benefit, but I think the argument of the film is that this benefit is short lived.  If a football team wins a game, but in the process their star quarterback and running back are injured, that is still a win for the team.  As an example, let's contrast a major action point in The Last Jedi with The Empire Strikes Back and beyond:


    In The Last Jedi, Rey ends her training early to save her friends and turn Kylo to the light.  She does this successfully, but it doesn't result in Kylo turning to the light as she expected.  Her immediate objective was completed, but her expectations of what would happen next were incorrect.


    In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke leaves his training early to save his friends and turn Vader to the light.  However in this case Han Solo is still captured, Vader doesn't stray from his path, and Luke ends up losing his hand.  Not only did Luke fail in his stated goal, but he ends up worse off because of it.  Later in the Return of the Jedi, after accepting the Jedi ways Luke is able to inspire Vader to turn to the light.


    In this example we see both Luke and Rey reject the Jedi way in favor of pursuing their own goals, but with very different results.  Luke's rejection of these ways leads to failure, then later his acceptance leads to success, but Rey's acceptance of Jedi wisdom leads to a short lived victory. To me this is the apotheosis of the film's meta commentary, where it seems to suggest that relying on the standard Star Wars ideas was all well and good in the past, but things need to change going forward.  This isn't to say the film is about failure, but that the victories of the past were hollow.

  12. I really think we need to stop putting so much stock in what people with stupid premises think about things.  There are plenty of things to criticize about the film, but for fuck's sake it's the premise for the criticism that matters not the result.




    On the failure theme, upon further reflection I think this is a misreading of the film's action and plot.  The film doesn't appear to show failure, mostly it's about the consequences of pyrrhic victory.  Just for a quick recap:


    - The attack on the dreadnought in the opening scene isn't a failure, the bombers successfully complete their objective but take heavy losses.  Also this doesn't seem to affect the perception of poe among the rank and file.

    - Finn and Rose set out to find someone capable of hacking into the supremacy's computer systems.  They do find someone, just not the one they intended to find

    - Rose "frees" the cat-horse-camels by removing the saddle from one of them, but let's be honest they are going to be recaptured immediately by the very much intact power structure on Canto Byte

    - Poe's mutiny is successful, but short lived and doesn't appear to have any lasting impact on moral or unit cohesiveness

    - Holdo's sacrifice weakens the first order, but doesn't wipe it out or kill the leadership

    - Luke's lessons to Rey end up ultimately turning her toward the light, just not how he would have hoped

    - Rey successfully breaks Snoke's hold over Kylo, but he doesn't react the way she wanted once that happens

    - The rebellion successfully escapes the first order


    These things aren't failures, they are victories that come at a great cost or turn out to have unintended consequences.  Perhaps the message of the film is that the consequence of winning at all costs is failure but isn't really a satisfactory explanation to me.  This is mostly down to the final scene with luke, which seems to be the emotional apotheosis of the film, where Luke makes a martyr of himself to allow the rebellion to escape.  This is perhaps a practical loss for the rebellion but the emphasis of this moment is clearly on the mythical impact it has on the narrative of the rebellion.  I find it hard to buy this argument because of how important this victory is displayed in the final scene with the kids.  This victory can be described similarly to the ones listed above, but it shown as an unambiguous good whereas the others are framed as bad.  I think there is a stronger argument to be made regarding recognizing the failures of the past as being inseparable from it's methods, but I still am unable to come to a satisfying conclusion here as far as the film is concerned.


    On a positive note however, I don't think I've ever spent this much time thinking about the moral and philosophical implications of a star wars movie, and I'm really excited to see what Rian Johnson does with his trilogy.  Now I just have to sit through another good-but-not-great JJ abrams film where whatever interesting things this movie setup up are inevitably bungled.  Hopefully it's not as big of a fumble as Star Trek: Into Darkness, but I'm not going to hold my breath for a satisfying ending.  Did I say a positive note?  There's probably one in there somewhere.



  13. This is my first Monster Hunter, and after only a few hours playing it I find myself wishing I had tried the series out sooner.  The world is absolutely charming, and so far I really can't say enough good things about the community.  There is a ton of depth in this game, most of which is still a mystery to me, but for the first time in a while I'm incredibly excited about sinking my teeth into this one.  There are a few oddities when it comes to matchmaking and online play as well as a few structural issues that are really not beginner friendly.  In many ways it feels like this game has one foot in the modern era and one foot in game design from 10 years ago, which can be a bit frustrating after becoming used to AAA games that are polished to a mirror sheen.  For anyone who might be interested in this game but hasn't played one before, I'd recommend choosing the sword and shield as your starting weapon.  I made the mistake of picking a more technical weapon at the start which was ultimately an exercise in frustration.  Thankfully however there are a number of youtube videos, wikis and the like that are definitely worth checking out before jumping in to this one.



  14. I just finished the first season of the Orville and really enjoyed it.  I was expecting only to watch a couple episodes, mainly because the marketing makes it sound like decidedly bad comedy that I could only stomach for so long, but after about the third episode the show makes a more serious transition and starts to find it's groove.  The show remains lighthearted for the most part but in many other respects it felt like a love letter to the next generation, where many of the episodes end on a question.  I agree the tone can be all over the place, but I don't see this as a negative necessarily.  Each episode stands on it's own and there doesn't seem to be an overarching goal of the series, which admittedly messes with the pacing but allows the show to have a broad range of topics to explore.  I've only seen the first two episodes of discovery, and it's a bit so-so for me at the moment.  I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the season though, the plot is interesting enough and from what I'm hearing it picks up at about the midway point.  I get why the comparisons are made between the two shows, but to me they don't seem like they're trying to be competitors.  The Orville both structurally and tonally seems born out of classic star trek, while discovery is more in line with the JJ Abrams version of star trek which feels like it's own thing entirely.  I really don't see the reason why these two shows are pitted against one another (maybe they were in the same timeslot?) as it seems to me like they aren't really comparable on more than a surface level.  Personally I'm just happy that there are 2 star trek style things on tv now that I can watch.

  15. I've followed up on state level net neutrality stuff recently, since I was wondering how a lot of these sorts of protections would be implemented in the event only certain states maintain them.  This article does a decent job of outlining how states would intend to do that.


    I'm a bit skeptical of the implementation here, mainly I'm not optimistic this will be anything more than a temporary victory at best.  Recently comcast has shown a willingness to spend incredible amounts of money on even local government efforts to construct community broadband networks, not to mention how a lack of net neutrality could potentially make these networks walled off from Tier 1 services owned by or in exclusivity deals with bigger ISPs.  The state could refuse to issue future contracts to violators of net neutrality, but the ISPs could just go to the federal level and get a law passed outlawing such a practice.  The same is true with any legal challenge to state net neutrality laws, where the conflict would inevitably get elevated to the federal level which the likes of Comcast are willing to spend infinite amounts of money to maintain control of.  Also, if a state successfully adopts net neutrality laws in a regulatory sense, it is notoriously difficult to prove the slowdown to that site was intentional, and there are no apparent regulatory bodies at the state level that would be able to enforce any penalties.


    I suppose net neutrality isn't officially dead yet, but there are enough wealthy people out there who want to kill it that I don't think it will be around in any sense for very long.  Also, before you put your faith in democratic leadership to make this change, it's important to remember that they were some of the biggest recipients for Comcast's lobbying efforts in 2016.  Personally I'm putting my hope in wireless, and a decentralized data network running on a blockchain as the thing that will settle this question once and for all, but who knows when that will come around.  In the meantime everything is fucked, nothing you do matters and we all die alone.

  16. I saw the film again tonight, and I did enjoy the movie more on a second viewing.  I get the sense that this was at one point two or three different movies that were mashed into one.




    The plot sequence on Canto Byte was even more jarring this time, even up through the sequence on the first order capital ship.  It felt to me like DJ's revelation about the arms dealers supplying both the first order and rebellion should have been the climax of it's own movie.  The fact that an issue like that is brought up, and then almost immediately abandoned in favor of reinforcing the whole rebellion is good and empire is bad conclusion makes the whole thing ring hollow.  The Last Jedi does this in a few places, where it brings up a really interesting idea then completely abandons the thread in favor of spinning up a new one.  Interesting aspects of the universe are brought up, but never discussed.  It's like having a conversation with someone who just learned about a new concept and recognizes it's importance, but hasn't really examined it well enough to have anything meaningful to say.


    Also the humor the second time around was less cringe worthy, but in most cases unnecessary.  This goes back to my last point where each character at some point or another becomes the comic relief such that being witty isn't really an outstanding or really interesting aspect of any character.  I suppose some of this is the result of making a movie with an ensemble cast, but for me it really reinforces the idea that the director wasn't really confident in their work and used the humor as a safety net.  It's as though dialogue in spots was written by a middle schooler trying to get their first date, where everything is capped off with "lol jk, unless you're into it though" because jumping in with both feet might expose some vulnerability.



    My opinion of the film did improve somewhat, and I find myself being more interested in the new direction for star wars than it being something familiar to my childhood.  I just hope the next time around the creative team has more confidence in their approach, and is more willing to commit to the heavier themes they so clearly want to explore.

  17. I saw the last jedi on saturday, and I find myself liking it the more I think about it, which is the opposite reaction I had to the force awakens.  There are a few obvious complaints I have which have been echoed elsewhere, however my biggest concern about the movie is that so much of it felt contrived.  There are a couple subplots in particular that felt like they were there because a character needed something to do, and not because there was some larger point to be made.  There are some genuinely great sequences in the film, but I feel as though a lot of the inconsistency comes from the need to tick all the right boxes.  Related to this, many of the scenes and character introductions to me seemed to be more justification for transmedia integration (yay buzzword) than something that was critical to the plot.  There are plenty of things I dislike about the film, and to me it adds up to an intriguing but ultimately average movie.  In a lot of ways this feels like Rian Johnson wanting to reset the star wars universe and redefine what it is, and what it can be. In particular...


    Let's hope I don't mess up the spoiler tags here (if I do, I'll do my best to rectify it immediately)


    The sequence with Luke, Kylo and Rey on the island was fantastic in it's entirety.  I really wish this comprised most of the movie both because of it's significance in the plot, and the meta commentary that was going on.  This felt like it was a battle for Rey's soul, and ultimately for the direction of star wars going forward.  Here Luke advocates for tradition and discipline, while Kylo sees the path forward as one of radical individualism.  Kylo is interested in knowing and catering to Rey's thoughts and motivations, while Luke was primarily interested in her ancestry so she can be molded into something familar.  Luke wants to see Rey follow a strict code that relies on the wisdom of the past, where Kylo is pragmatic.  So long as the goal is achieved let the consequences be damned.  Luke sees the Jedi as an embodiment of goodness and a means to order while Kylo questions the nature of organizational power.  Luke has exiled and stowed himself away from the world after he was faced with his lesser nature, while Kylo, when being confronted by Rey about "the good in him" seems to say "So what?".


    It was really this sequence that cemented Kylo as my favorite character in the series, with some phenomenal acting on all sides.  Later in the movie this culminates in Rey and Kylo's conversation after the throne scene fight where she rejects both directions in favor of forming her own in the breaking of Luke's Light saber.  Here the movie deals with the force as less of a skill tree and more of a philosophical concern to great effect, and I'm hoping we see more things like this in the future.



  18. On 9/12/2017 at 10:26 AM, clyde said:

    @itsamoose  I think the idea is basically that capital accumulation has created a situation in which the two political parties in power (in the U.S.) both side far more with the interests of capitalists than with labor. So their plan is to find ways to give labor more influence. The DSA seems to actively avoid any details of what a socialist system will look like while aiming for one. The reasoning for this is that to come up with a socialist design for a system would lessen the power that those who inhabit that system would have to design the socialist system once it comes. I can understand why that will be an unsatisfactory answer for many, but I kinda like the idea. Capitalist interests have slowly created a circumstance where labor doesn't have the ability to organize and influence the public sphere. At this point, we can see where capitalists interests tend towards in U.S. politics (and I don't think it is a good direction). So I think increasing the influence of labor, learning about a socialist perspective on things like race, gender, and class, and promoting more active citizenship has some hope to it.


    This is one point in particular that I'm not sure how solves any of the problems laid out.  Sure I would be in favor of eliminating corporate influence on our political process, but by replacing that with large labor unions would just be replacing one dismal power structure for another.  The current corporate influence on US politics is effective because of it's ability to get votes, and I don't see how or why this sort of bureaucracy would be changed significantly if that influence was transferred to labor unions.  We'd be changing the keys to power, but the motivations of those keys would remain unchanged.  Organizations like labor unions may be more sympathetic, but I don't see how a similarly influential groups would act any differently than their corporate counterparts.  The direction of capital accumulation might change, but I don't see how the dissemination will.  Instead of vying for the support of corporate and business leaders, politicians would play the same game but with labor leaders as they did in the first half of the 20th century.  Maybe I'm too cynical here, but I don't see how or why a labor leader would be more interested in building roads and bridges 3 states away than they would garnering more resources for their union.  If you ever read Robert Gates' writing about his time as secretary of state, he describes how he went to great pains to eliminate the corporate and monetary influence on our military.  In this time he describes learning that every single defense contract was a kingdom unto itself, and how he couldn't get even the most staunchly anti militaristic senators to vote against more defense spending because it might end up taking money away from their state.


    This is really my key disagreement with the social democrat point of view.  It seems to hold that more people being involved in the process translates directly to more egalitarian and beneficial outcomes, but in all areas this has the capacity to create the same sort of inequality we see today.  Even just the recent past we have Brexit, Prop 8 in california, bathroom bills and a whole host of other decisions defined more by selfishness than anything else.  I get the same sense from the social democrats that I do from the occupy wall street movement--people generally against the status quo, but not with the requisite planning to identify and eliminate it's core problems.  Oddly enough, I see in the proposed policies of social democrats the same sort of policies that got Trump elected-- that is to say economic populism and trade protectionism.  I don't mean to be too harsh here, so rather than just be a nay-sayer here are a few questions I have for social democratic policies:


    1) How and why do the motivations of labor leaders differ from corporate leaders with respect to the political process?  Specifically, how would this not lead to the situation of real power only being in a few hands, or nepotism being the mode of the day.

    2) What economic policies should be implemented to prevent the overwhelming accumulation of wealth other than to tax it? In other words, how should this be done before the wealth is accumulated?

    3) What role should the government play in markets other than regulating them?  Specifically, how would government domination of a market be prevented in any market the government becomes involved in?

    4) What changes to government contracts and subsidies should be made?

    5) What protections should be put in place to ensure smaller organizations or individuals are on a level playing field with larger ones?

    6) How would the disparate needs of the various states in the US be handled, and what power would state governments need to have over federal?

    7) How are strong regulatory practices, and direct government involvement or control in markets possible without a strong centralized authority?

    8) If such an authority not existing is truly the difference between democratic socialism and other socialist regimes, how would the creation of this authority be prevented?


    TL;DR I think I have a decent grasp upon the philosophy of social democracy, but how is it to be put into practice?

  19. I've spent the last few weeks reading into the democratic socialist viewpoint (for lack of a better word) and to be honest, almost none of what they advocate is really socialism.  Most of their advocacy and ideas come in the form of social programs, safety nets public works and the like, and in many ways I see the same sorts of personalities advocating for democratic socialism as I do for libertarian ideology.  Mostly I see these movements as a response to crony capitalism, lobbying, private prisons, military contractors, and other things of this nature where nepotism and culturally adverse economic incentives exist.  The two main points of socialism, to take a pragmatic view, is to criminalize profit and outlaw private property, neither of which seem to be objectives of the democratic socialists.  There seems to be some general sense that a socialist system will take over gradually, but so far I can't find any proposals of how they intend to achieve this, or how they intend to defend against having the sort of outcomes that, to be perfectly frank, every single socialist government in the world has had.  I suppose the one distinction I've noticed is the idea that economic and governmental systems should be decentralized, but I've yet to encounter any compelling arguments as to why this would create better outcomes.  The argument tends to go that dictatorial power drives society in a negative way, but this seems to me just a possible for a bunch of people acting selfishly in the way democratic socialists content wouldn't create different but equally negative results.  I suppose I'll keep an open mind, but so far I'm not finding much of the argumentation or pragmatic concerns of the philosophy all that satisfying.

  20. 2 hours ago, Problem Machine said:

    Positive masculine values are generally along the lines of dadliness -- self-reliance and a desire to protect and provide for another. These aren't exclusively male traits obviously, but are traditionally considered masculine, as opposed to the more feminine equivalents of community-building and desire to care for and nurture another.


    Not to harp on this point, but this observation and others like it are the sort that I think is contributing to that misunderstanding described earlier.  To view Masculinity as having a "good" and "bad" version is to conflate the idea and it's proponents.  The desire for self reliance is not an inherently positive characteristic, and could be turned to either end.  If I use a hammer to build a house for habitat for humanity, the hammer doesn't become imbued with benevolent traits any more than it would become imbued with malevolent ones if it was used to commit a murder.  It is still just a hammer.  If we associate a trait with masculinity, we must recognize that it is the application of this trait that determines it's worth, and not relegate it to either promotion of subversion.


    The idea of the masculine/feminine spectrum is one I find ultimately unsatisfactory.  I can see why it is believed, but it seems to naturally lend toward a few fallacious conclusions:


    1.) The ideas must stand in opposition to each other

    2.) Either one is wholly good and the other wholly bad, or each has it's own distinct positive and negative version.  This assigns agency to the idea rather than the agent, and is a mode of thinking that leads to, for example, the idea that sex is a conquest because sex is viewed as an inherent good.

    3.) Traits that cannot be placed squarely in one camp or the other are worth less.  not "worthless" but in fact, worth less than traits which are starkly feminine/masculine.  This is a corollary to point 2, in that by making a value judgement of the concepts primarily in opposition to one another we relate their important to our perceptions more so than their results.

    4.) We have conclusions drawn for us.  For example, let's take the idea of self-reliance.  By placing this on the masculine end of the spectrum we force ourselves to see it is beneficial to men, and antithetical to women.  We see a woman's independence as a subversion of her character and not an expression of it.


    There are a few other minor points I have with the categorization, but these are the big ones.  I'm not saying doing this is "wrong" necessarily, only that to do create an opposition where one need not exist.  It allows us to see the ideas only as a matter of contrast, of good and evil in themselves, rather than something that could be used to either end.  I contend that the sort of masculinity that leads to bullying is the exact sort that leads to dadliness.  Both actions require the exertion of dominance, it is only the target of that dominance which has changed.  We can't decide if an action is masculine or not, or by extension good or not, on it's own merits if we've already decided it's place on the spectrum.

  21. From what I'm seeing, the softboy/fuckboy thing seems to highlight a failure of the dating and communication process more so than an aspect of masculinity.  Certainly in my life, and this seems to be true with my conversations with others, sex or any physical aspects of a relationship are simply unacceptable goals in a romantic endeavor.  Not only is this the case, but seeking these things directly is seen as a manipulation or subversion of the process.  To this end sex has become a sort of currency in the process rather than a part of it.  Particularly in the poem quoted above, the exchange appears to be seen as though between a con artist and their mark.  I'm not sure how this ties to masculinity directly, aside from perhaps the experiences of the courting process for certain individuals, but it does appear clear that masculinity is the frame through which these sorts of communications are perceived.  Of course there are those who would directly relate such tactics as dominant or manly, but I'm hesitant to accept any conclusions from such people for the obvious reasons.


    So far in this thread I've noticed much discussion of masculinity, perhaps in totality, as a bad thing or as a thing misused by the deceitful.  I'd be curious to know, what would you say masculinity is?  Not what is it used for, or where it might exist, or who might exhibit it, or what version of it is best, but what is it exactly?  As someone who has had a quite positive experience in my life with (my) idea of masculinity I'm curious to know what you all think of the concept in its own context.

  22. I recently jumped back into the SP campaign of andromeda after the changes, and while a number of improvements have been the game still feels like it doesn't really have the same spark that the original trilogy had.  The game starts quite strong, but quickly the whole thing starts to feel empty.  My actions feel obligatory, and ultimately inconsequential.  I find myself more often than not bumbling into main quest objectives, and the character interactions feel forced and inorganic.  It seems to me like the conventional wisdom of game design was applied here, almost entirely to the detriment of the end result.  To some extent a lot of the issues people see are the result of a rushed development, but after the recent fixes I don't think more time in the oven would have solved the core problems present.  

  23. I'm also quite looking forward to destiny 2.  Destiny in recent months has become my game to unwind with at the end of the day, and I'm glad to see a lot of the arbitrary restrictions removed from some of the content.  My big concern though, and I've seen no indication this will change, is the incredible emphasis destiny places on random loot drops and immutable currencies.  I recently discarded something like 50 exotic shards simply because I has no use for them, despite being an incredibly rare material. Otherwise, I'm really into a lot of the changes both to class designs and and equipment, as well as the broader experience of playing the game.  In a lot of ways this feels like the game bungie has wanted to make all along.


    Also a bit of a side note, the game only coming to the blizzard launcher seems like a much more consequential move to me than it's being made out to be.  It might be a one off thing, but at this point it seems like this is the first real sign that big publishers are starting to pull away from steam.  EA already jumped ship a few years ago, and I wouldn't be surprised if Activision were going to do the same in the years to come.

  24. In terms of emergence, it might be more useful to think of games not as systems and mechanics, but as rules.  For example:


    Be the first person to push the button is actually 2 rules at play--order and pushing buttons.  We might see "first" and "push the button" as individual mechanics, and the interaction of the two could be seen as a system.  Both systems and mechanics are either collections of rules or describe interactions based on rules, but emergence is still possible without such organization.  For example, consider a the following two rules:


    1. Boys like Girls

    2. Girls like Robots


    Neither of those two rules describe what the game might be, what actions the player might take, if those rules can interact with one another, or how those rules might be organized.  Those rules imply a number of concepts in the game (namely boys, girls, robots, and feelings) and the emergence is then a product of the interaction of those rules, or in other words things present but not necessarily defined.

  25. From a purely technical perspective, the answer is 2.  So long as at least 2 systems are present in a game, and those systems are implemented in such a way that they can interact with each other then emergent interactions are possible.  Really all you need are 2 rules with the possibility of interaction with one another in a way that isn't prescriptive.  For example, the ability to press and buttons being pressed isn't an emergent interaction since one directly influences the other, but the ability for a ball to get knocked into a button such that it is pressed is since the ball pressing the button is just a logical consequence of the two rules interacting.  You could say all you need is one, since rule can interact with itself(such as physics impulses), but I wouldn't necessarily go that far because that rule's core functionality would necessarily contain internal interactions.  The result in this case might not appear prescriptive to us, but it's execution is entirely determined by explicit functionality.


    To put more of a point on the premise, what do you mean by "emergent stories" in this context.  Technically a rocket jump in quake is an emergent story, although a limited one, but I get the feeling this case something particular is being driven at.