Hate Speech is Fascism, not Freedom

I am losing my tolerance for the disingenuous protection of hate speech as “free speech.” I used to say, “Let the assholes out themselves,” when it came to bigotry. But what does that accomplish? What do you do with white supremacists after they “out themselves?” If there are no laws in place that can touch them, only laws against punching them like they deserve, then outing them only gives them more visibility. They’re like a bunch of toddlers pushing the boundaries, realizing they can do as they please and not get in trouble, so they keep pushing the walls of acceptability. As more people realize, “I can say horrible shit now? I can do whatever the fuck I want?” more people follow their example until decent society is destroyed.

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Pier 1’s Tasting Spoons are an Abomination

I’ve had this misshapen lump of inert matter shoved in the back of my cupboards for a few years, after receiving it from people I didn’t know who were hosting a Christmas dinner and felt they had to give everyone something. It would have been better if they’d given us nothing – they’d already served a nice dinner after all. Why spoil it by foisting junk on people? I admit I didn’t receive it well, with a quiet exclamation of, “Tasting spoons? What the hell?” It was an obvious regift, bought by the kind of idiots who buy idiot junk for other people thinking, “I’m sure they won’t have this!” Yes, I’m sure no one would have set of “tasting spoons” because it’s possibly the dumbest fucking idea ever conceived out of a brain-diseased foodie’s asshole.

I’m going to sound like a total ingrate, because we’re all supposed to receive gifts gracefully no matter how ill thought out they are. No matter how much of a burden they’re inevitable to be, cluttering our cabinets while serving no function other to annoy us with their existence. My hatred for this shit can’t be measured in magnitudes of any scale. There is no hyperbole large enough to contain it. If you share with me the idea that all things should be either beautiful, useful, or otherwise consigned to the scrap heap, join me on my joyful rant as the yule tide floods us all with more crap we never knew we didn’t want until it lands in our laps with a shiny bow and dares us to confront the void of brain-dead consumer spending and the society that pisses away people’s lives to make literal garbage. Fa la la la la la…

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Wastefulness: the Eighth Deadly Sin

The movie Bedazzled (the original with Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore) had a scene where the devil complained of his lack of creativity since the old days in coming up with new sins, listing advertising as the only one he’s come up with after the last seven. I can think of one more, and find the absence of wastefulness among the originals disturbing. Besides greed its one of the greatest sins destroying us today.

Wastefulness is so commonly chided, it’s surprising not to see it listed in any religious texts (so far as I know). It’s related to greed or gluttony, but it’s not quite the same thing. Greed means accumulating more due to excessive want, but wastefulness is the lack of want. It’s not giving a shit about the things you have. Gluttony is closer, when it means over-consumption, but again it seems to assume you actually consume all you take rather than acquiring it only to throw it away.

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Bad Game Design: Limiting Play

There’s nothing I hate more, when playing a video game, than being railroaded. When a game tries to force me along a set path at a set rate, I only go kicking and screaming. Being cattle prodded is not fun to me, and what else would I be playing for? (Well, besides pain management, because gaming is something I only do when I feel like utter crap – it’s an easy way to crank up the endorphins.) The worst form of railroading is setting a ticking clock to artificially create a sense of urgency. It’s fine for casual games like Bejeweled, because there’s nothing to focus on but a few shiny tiles, but in a game where the devs built an interesting world to explore, rushing the player through it is bullshit.

The only thing I bought from the Steam Sale this year is a package of all the old Fallout games for less than ten bucks. I was feeling nostalgic, but one thing I wasn’t nostalgic for was the time limit on the first game in the series. My brother bought it back around its time of release, and I wouldn’t touch it for that reason. I played the second, which didn’t have a time limit, and enjoyed the hell out of it. I only went back and played the first after they removed the time limit in the patch, because by then the game developers realized how much it was a bad idea.

For you see they added all this cool crap you could get as you gained levels, but the original game wouldn’t let you get much past level 12 before the entire game world went up in flames due to a hidden timer that destroyed one town after another as you wasted time, you know, having fun playing the damned thing. They originally designed the game for the type of player who burns through the main quest and doesn’t give a crap about anything else. Then they realized, after tons of people complained, that there was a whole other type of player who likes building a character, exploring, and generally dicking around. These were the people who enjoyed it as a game rather than an interactive movie where you get to shoot things on the screen until the credits roll.

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Mobile Apps Are Not a Web Solution

This came out of an email I typed to my local public library after they kindly informed me that their website doesn’t support iOS Safari and suggested I download their mobile app instead. This response is unacceptable, and here’s why:

A single-purpose mobile app is about as useful as a unicycle. Sure, you might be able to ride it down the street, but it was never designed to get you much further. Apps for every website has always been a dumb idea because it breaks up the interconnected nature of the web itself. The moment the user needs to click a link to another site, they get bumped out of your app entirely – creating friction that makes the experience awful for the user and detrimental to their impression of you.

Back in 2011, every clueless CEO wanted a mobile app (that does nothing a website can’t already do) because they heard it was the latest, hottest thing and wanted to jump on the bandwagon. It was a terrible fad that had its day because it was a terrible idea. Yet here you are, in 2015, telling people, “Please use our unicycle instead of the bicycle we can’t be bothered to fix. Unicycles are still hip, right? Pleeease try out our unicycle. We lost our bicycle building budget over this!”

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Why Some Fantasy Franchises Fail

There’s a pattern I’ve noticed in failed movies trying to make the next Harry Potter out of a book series that had reasonable sales. They’re usually big budget, with tons of gorgeous CGI and special effects, and hit the box office like a cold lump of lead. There are a lot factors, I’m sure, in what makes a movie box-office poison, but the biggest one in fantasy movies, particularly those aimed at kids, is this: a missing sense of fun.

Now, I say fun because “sense of wonder” is what all those films are going for. The problem is a “sense of wonder” isn’t enough if the movie’s a dreary slog. Perhaps it was back in the 80s, when The Neverending Story captured a whole generation’s imagination despite being incredibly depressing. What I’m saying is vicariously getting to ride Falcor the Luck Dragon made up for watching a horse drown in the mud.

The Neverending Story eventually got a sequel, but much like part 2 of the book, it was a hundred times more unpleasant and deservedly tanked. All I’ll say about the second half of the book is it lives up to its title because no one’s ever finished it. Most films following the The Neverending Story format never get a sequel these days. After all, who wants to waste their time watching a humorless hero go through a thankless quest just to see a unicorn when there’s more enjoyable fantasy fare out there?

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How to Murder an Earworm

So I’ve managed to stick to my vow to write for an hour minimum every day, but all I’ve written is crap and I haven’t been able to edit it because I’ve been sick the whole damned week and my brain is fuzzy and no does grammar good. So without further ado, here’s a load of crap:

Don’t you hate being earwormed by a song you hate? My hatred for certain songs comes close to being full on misphonia. I mean, I get seriously enraged. It’s not healthy. I’m not going mention any songs in particular, because that would be like telling someone, “By the way, here’s my anti-Kryptonite, the thing that will turn me into the Incredible Hulk. Feel free to fuck with me for a laugh.” (By the way, the blog post will be extra sweary. This is unfiltered shit you’re getting here.) I’m exactly like this bear, and yes I even love Gary Numan so much that playing We Have a Technical is the secret sauce to chilling me out from an angry high.

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Fanfic is Not a Threat

How do you feel about fanfic? Does the thought of basement dwellers shitting all over your favorite franchise make you shudder? Does the idea of someone stomping all over your vision make you hulk out? Well, maybe it’s time to calm down over this douche-tide in a pony vagina (I’m going for a non-cliche way of saying “tempest in a teapot” – I don’t think I was entirely successful). Fanfic has been a thing for ages, and it hasn’t destroyed literature yet.

To gain some perspective, I’m going to turn to modding for a moment. I recently posed the question: how do you feel about other people modding your mods? The group I talked to were pretty cool about it, even found it flattering, but I’ve encountered modders who get bent out of shape about people messing with their “artistic vision” – which is bullshit, and here’s why.

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Word Aren’t Precious When They’re Pretentious

Ever come across a word and think, “Why would anyone use that?” Ok, most people probably don’t care, but I sometimes find a word so ungainly, so inappropriate to its meaning, or so ill-used that it makes me wonder if the people who came up with it ever hear themselves talk. I’m talking about the musical quality words have, something every poet pays attention to and almost everyone else ignores.

Yet it’s something even the oblivious respond to. Some words, some phrases, are better remembered than others. This is why poetry was the most effective way to pass on knowledge before the written word. Besides rhythm, poetry has flow – created by putting words in the best order for ease of speaking or emphasis. It’s why one of the most useful editing techniques is to read your work out loud.

But this article isn’t about sentence flow, it’s about the visceral chewiness of words. Some words jive with what they mean and others kind of suck. Take the word coruscate for example:

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How a Life Lived Entirely Online Can Turn You Into a Bitter Sadsack

In the wake of the growing phenomena of online mobs dragging people to the pillory, often for the most ridiculously minor offenses, I’ve been thinking about what we can all do to be better than this, and the answer is we all need to go the fuck outside. This is not an original observation, of course. Viktor Frenkl made it a century ago in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Therefore, I’m going to let the man who survived Auschwitz do some of the explaining:

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