An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Archive for January, 2012

Students for Life Candlelight Vigil is bigoted

If one travels the corridors and hallways of UAA and happens to come upon this little sign, then you’ll get to see one of the most profound exercises in stupidity that has ever been done.  There is a candlelight vigil that is going down soon (or could have happened.  Either way, this needs to be talked about) with the group UAA Students for Life.  These are basically anti-choice (pro-life) activists who are doing this vigil for Roe v. Wade.

For real, they are actually having an candlelight vigil to say this is something that people should be mourning.  Let’s examine that fact, because if one thinks about it, not only is this horrible, but it says something really bad about the people involved.

Roe v. Wade was an act that gave a woman the right to her own body.  The holding in this case was a law in Texas that made it a crime for a woman to get assistance when getting an abortion, and that this was a violation of her due process rights.  The courts agreed, and from that day on, women got to have the rights to their own bodies.  It was a fantastic day for women, and for pro-women activists.  However, for another group of people, that isn’t the case.

From the moment it passed, the opposition took to the streets.  The irony of modern times is that the more options, pharmaceutically, that exist ot prevent women from getting abortions, the louder the opposition becomes.  But why is this?  Well, the simple argument is that they believe that life begins at conception.  A million and a half brilliant minds have already torn that argument to pieces, so we won’t go into that here.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter.  This is like gay marriage – it is something that politicians have no right or good reason to be getting involved in.  A lot of Ron Paulites say, “let the states decide!”  No, wrong!  This is something that either America has to be totally for or totally against.  We cannot have the double-standard in this country that we do.  And you see it all the time.

An interesting thought about these anti-choice people is that they want to protect the unborn, but the moment you are in the world, they don’t want to hear about you.  No health care, no Head Start, no food stamps, no school lunch.  Nothing.  They don’t care about you until you reach military age.  When they can send you overseas to die in pointless wars, that’s when these anti-choice people like to hear about you.  But other than that, nothing!  Absolutely nothing.

But getting back to the UAA Students for Life vigil, let me ask you something – do you not want women to have rights over their own bodies?  Surely that’s the case.  You must truly believe that women’s interests should be subjugated by the state.  And since it is almost universally white conservatives who take this view, I find it surprising that you take this standpoint, especially considering that you all seem to want this “small government.”  Yeah, small enough to watch over each woman and make sure her pregnancy goes to term.

What was it that George Carlin said about these kinds of people?

They’re not pro-life.  You know what they are?  They’re anti-woman.  Simple as it gets, anti-woman.  They don’t like ’em.

And that’s the simple truth.  They dont’ like women.  Or at the very least, they don’t like the fact that they can choose what to do with their own bodies.  And so, giving them the right to do so is worthy of a candlelight vigil.

It’s bigotry.  Simple as that.

Peace out,

Lefty

Muppet Fox News Pwnage!

This was too good not to post. Enjoy –

Peace out,

Lefty

The History of Resident Evil

Well, now that the newest sequel to the Resident Evil saga is coming out, I thought it would be nice to take a look back through this game’s history.  What makes this game’s history unique is that the newest addition to the Resident Evil saga is going to be Resident Evil 6.  Six games, and a plethora of off-shoot games, and this series is still going strong.  Unlike the Silent Hill series, where the later games have gotten progressively less interesting, Resident Evil is able to fall, then bounce right back.  That said, let’s take a look at what is one of the most amazing game series that has ever been.

The original Resident Evil changed the name of the game in the video game world.  It introduced us to the survival horror genre.  Many will argue that other games, like Alone in the Dark came before it, but really, this was the game that made the genre what it is.  It introduced us to the Umbrella Corporation, and their evil experiments.  It also gave us the first two mainstream protagonists – Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine.  Then there is an awesome antagonist who is introduced – Albert Wesker.  This was a game that was as interesting to watch as it was to play.  It had a lot of action, sure, but it was the story that was the most intriguing part.

While making your way through the Ashford Manor, You learn of what had befallen the occupants.  You learn of the T-Virus and what is it is capable of.  Wesker is revealed to be an Umbrella double-agent, and there is also the Tyrant.  This game is awesome because it makes a very personal connection.  The voice acting isn’t great, and the effects weren’t good, but for its time, this was an amazing piece of work.  Looking at this game and its merits are a lot like looking at the film Jaws.  It is a good movie, even today, because it was able to influence you.  This game did the same.  It scared the crap out of people then, as it does now.

Next up came Resident Evil 2.  This took the horror of the first game, and put it on a much larger scale.  Here, the entirety of Raccoon City is infected with the T-Virus.  You play as either Leon Kennedy or Clair Redfield.  These are two new protagonists who become key to the Resident Evil canon.  Regardless of who you pick, they are both coming into the city.  Leon is a cop who is on his first day.  Claire is looking for her brother.  Both wind up becoming trapped in the chaos that has consumed a city that is trapped by nightmares.  There is also a character called Ada Wong.  Whether she is good or bad, nobody can say.  She is either and both at the same time, always with her own agenda.  She’ll do good things, while also doing bad ones.  There is the introduction of the G-Virus as well, an upgrade of the T-Virus.  While the engine of gameplay for this wasn’t all that much better, the story was much better.

It kept to the genre by making it much more personal.  My take is that the idea behind it was that this was a city.  It could be your city.  You could be one of the people who is desperately trying to survive in a city overtaken by the dead.  It’s kind of scary to think about.  With films about this concept getting better, it is kind of weird to wonder what you would do if the dead started coming back to life.  It really makes one think.  But this game was a sequel that was actually better than the original.

Now, the thing which also broke the Resident Evil series was the third – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.  The problem with this game was that it didn’t really bring anything new into the fold.  The story was interesting, but the gameplay was boring, and the backgrounds that were made were all the same.  It was literally the same as Resident Evil 2.  The biggest change was the addition of a new bad guy.  Now, this was pretty cool.  He is really a cool boss.  The cool thing about him is that he is always after you, always trying to kill you.  No matter where you go, this monster is there with you.  He will hunt you down forever, if that’s what it takes.

What this game primarily was good for was adding to the canon of the series.  Jill Valentine is trying to escape from Racoon City before Umbrella destroys it.  While she is, the Nemesis is out, hunting down the last of the STARS (Special Tactics and Rescue Squad) members.  The gameplay was repetitive, and the backgrounds were old, so many people thought this was going to be the end of the Resident Evil saga.  And for a while, it looked like they might have been right.  There was a chasm of off-shoot games that were made.  Some of them were good.  Others, not so much.

But they couldn’t have been more wrong.  Resident Evil 4 brought this series back to life in an incredible way.  It changed everything about the games, from going away from the pre-rendered backgrounds, to a new way of controling the characters, with an over-the-shoulder style.  This game was one of the pioneers of that as well, and now, well, almost all action games are using it.  Another change was the enemies you had to fight.  In the original games, while there were the occasional monsters who were pretty hardcore, most of your enemies was a slow-moving horde who gave you plenty of time to blow their undead brains out.  But Resident Evil 4 makes this horde faster, smarter, and even able to handle weapons.

Unlike in the first 3 games, this one features a new form of BOW (Bio-organic weapons).  These people are infected with a parasite called “Las Plagas.”  You play as Leon Kennedy, on a mission to recover the President’s daughter, Ashley.  Now, in mentioning her, it needs to be pointed out that she is the one major short-coming of the game.  She is annoying, you are always having to protect her, and she can’t do much of anything.  The best moments in this game are when you’re alone, having to square off against the monsters of this game.  It also brings back Ada, which is pretty fun.  All in all, this was a great game that definitely breathed new life into this series.  In a HUGE way.

Next up is Resident Evil 5.  This game was less about the dark and terror aspect that made the original games, and more about action.  And good for it.  One thing that needs to be mentioned right away is that the main character, Chris Redfield, also has a partner, but unlike Resident Evil 4, his partner is not some helpless kid.  Her name is Sheva Alomar, and she is not only cool, but tough.  She is part of what makes this a fun game.  And she has to be tough, because you are fighting some really bad goons here.  Amping up the evil of the previous game, these undead are also made from Plagas, and now can not only handle weapons, but also guns.

A lot of people criticized the fact that it wasn’t all that scary, and that was always supposed to be the idea.  There was also criticism of the idea that this game was racist, since it featured primarily black zombies.  Of course, what isn’t mentioned is – it’s in Africa.  A game about living death that takes place in Africa would have African zombies.  Who knew?

The story of this game was pretty cool.  It brought back Wesker, and it gave him the awesome-ness he always deserved.  In this game, he is the ultimate boss.  He is nigh unkillable, until he mutates.  There is a running joke among gamers that all these awesome bosses are awesome until they mutate.  At which point, they become kind of pathetic.  Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII, Saddler from Resident Evil 4, and many others.  But that aside, he is still awesome, and it’s a bummer they killed him off.  Still, it was an exciting sequel and the series held strong.

Now there is the latest addition.  It is slated to come to the consoles on the 20th of November.  The previews for the game have laid out pretty well what the premise is.  This game is unique in that it doesn’t have just one or two playable protagonists.  It has at least three.  There is Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, and a new character.  All three have their own sagas going on.  I am very excited to see how they tie the stories together.

From the preview I linked above, the premist for Leon’s story is that he is with the President, who wants to tell the world about what is happening, and how dangerous the situation is.  The President gets infected, and Leon is now having to make his way through another city that has ended up like Raccoon City.  Chris is still with the BSAA.  He is on a mission in China.  It starts out looking a lot like Resident Evil 5.  He is responding to a report of an outbreak, and from the looks of things, it gets pretty out of control.  The new character, he seems to be a mercenary who is working for money.  Why he is fighting for them or his backstory is still a mystery.  But this definitely looking to be a fun addition.

While also adding depth of story, this game appears to be mixing up the kind of undead, from the typical zombies from the original games, to the Plagas.  It is looking to be a lot of fun.  I am definitely excited for it.

This game series has remade a genre, and from the looks of things, isn’t done yet.  There are signs with this game that it is approaching a conclusion.  Maybe that’s just me. The stakes are much higher, and the whole world is starting to come to terms with the idea that humanity isn’t safe.  These monsters are everywhere, and can destroy the entire planet.  It seems to be that this game will be elevating the human aspect of living in a world where the undead can destroy a population quickly, and nobody is secure.

We’ll see on November.

Peace out,

Lefty

The State of the Union Address, Political Schtick

Reblogged from Lucien Maverick’s Blog

Well, it was another day when our President had to come out and to make a big speech about the state of America.  Much like myself and probably most people were expecting, it was another really long bit of pandering.  The ironic thing this time was that it wasn’t really pandering to anybody in-particular.  It was kind of pandering to, well, nobody.

The speech began with Obama talking about how the troops were coming home, and how they were defending our freedom.  Question, Obama, and to all of the conservatives who are stupid enough to think that this is something that matters – what exactly is our freedom in danger from?  That has always been something that I have never gotten.  They say that our country is in immediate danger, when the fact is that it isn’t.  Now Obama is championing the troops effort to “secure our freedom.”  Really, think about how dumb this statement is.  It took Al-Qaeda over ten years to plan and execute their plan to destroy the World Trade Center (it was terrorists, not the government, you Truthers are imbeciles).  We have decimated their ranks since the beginning of the “War on Terror.”  (I think we are going to have a War on Silliness next) Our freedom is in no danger of being destroyed.  The terrorists don’t have an army, of any kind, so they aren’t going to be conquering America.

Next, the President talked about how our economy needs work (he makes a point later about how America is back, but I’ll get to pointing out how stupid that is in a second).  Of course, he said things about how the economy was hurt by corporations and a lack of oversight (which he hasn’t addressed.  Wall-Street Reform was a joke).  He didn’t even bother to address the banks who got us into this mess, or suggest that the people who did this with criminal activities be held accountable.  I get that.  He has to feed them the schtick that they want to hear.  All State of the Union addresses are like that.  Nobody ever wants to deflate America or the private market’s ego.  Nobody ever wants to, I don’t know, suggest that we fight back.

While talking about the economy, he makes a point that he saved the auto industry.  Obama has been milking that point to death ever since he did it.  Like he thinks we have all forgotten about all the failures, and how the economy is swiftly heading in the wrong direction.  But yes, he did say that he saved the auto industry, and for some reason, that’s going to put America back on top.  Then, in a rather odd move, he said that the same financial success that reclaiming the auto industry had on Detroit, it would have in other places.

It could happen in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Raleigh.

I guess it can only happen in swing states.  That’s cool.

Next up, he talked again about how he would get business to come back to America, and fix the tax code to stop them from abusing the system for their own benefit.  We’ve heard that schtick before.  And of course, business will come back to America.  Yes, because exploiting foreign labor will be less profitable, right?  I know that the President isn’t that foolish, so we’ll just chalk that up to him being political.

And of course, whenever one talks about America, there is the “winning the future” gag, where America is ahead of the game, and making innovation all over the world.  Like how we have a mass-transit system, right?  Oh, right, we don’t.  Europe, Japan and Russia have those.  Well, we don’t have that, but we have universal health care!  Oh wait, that’s also something that a lot of European and 1st-world Asian countries have, along with Canada.  So, we’re not ahead of the curve there.  But we’re leading the way in space technology, right?  Nope, NASA has pretty much been cut from funding, so the space race, which was proven to be good for the economy, is dead.  So where is America in the race for the “future?”  Well, to be honest, not anywhere.  We are stuck in a deadland because nobody wants this country to invest in anything useful, like infrastructure, or taxing the rich.

Oh sure, he did promise that the wealthy would be paying more in taxes, but I think we have all seen how Obama is completely unwilling to stand his ground on any of that.  He didn’t stand his ground on the Bush Tax Cuts, or the Debt Ceiling.  He gave the Republicans all that they wanted and more.  The fact is that this was all just pandering, and nobody should be paying attention to it.  The truth of what is happening in this country speaks for itself.

Peace out,

Lefty

 

Can our government please grow up?

There is a story in the news right now about a girl named Jessica Ahlquist.  She is a 16 year old high school student in Rhode Island.  She joined with the ACLU and got a prayer banner removed from her high school.  She did this amidst endless amount of bullying, taunts and threats from not only students, but parents too.  She’s a brave kid, standing up for the Constitution.  But the really sad part is that Ahlquist has been getting flak not just from her high school, but also from people in government.

No joke, a Representative from Rhode Island was quoted saying that Ahlquist is “an evil little thing.”  He went on to say “she is being coerced by evil people.”  The idea is that all atheists are evil, or at least the ones who endorse the idea of keeping a public school from endorsing religion.

When will our government grow up?  Can we please have a moment where people who lead this nation don’t appear to be angry children?  Between all the bigotry coming out of Rick Santorum’s mouth, and all the insanity from Rick Perry, it is getting so hard to see where the grown-ups are.  We need a grown-ups right now.  America needs some adults to be in the room and actually lead this country, rather than do their usual routine of blaming other people for what is wrong.

That’s all.  It’s a short post, but it needed to be said.  America, we need some grown-ups to run for office.  Any ideas?

Peace out,

Lefty

http://seg.sharethis.com/getSegment.php?purl=http%3A%2F%2Feli0johnson.wordpress.com%2Fwp-admin%2Fpost-new.php&jsref=&rnd=1327019446393

America’s Government is Old

People can argue until they are blue in the face about it being a left thing or a right thing, but the fact is that it is not.  What is wrong this this country can be seen in what is happening in Congress right now.  It has been going on since the beginning of the Internet, and it can be seen in perfect clarity at this very moment.  So, what’s wrong with this country – the government is old.

Nowhere is this problem more visible than with the battle for SOPA and PIPA.  It is all over the internet today.  Google and Wikipedia are blacking out their pages to protest it.  If they were smart, Facebook and Twitter would have joined the fight.  If you want people to fight against these two acts, deny people their Facebook.  It would be a fury of anger at the government.  But alas, it is still a good fight that has been done on the behalf of this battle that all of the internet is firmly on one side.

But it is a sign too about how this government is.  It is very, very old.  What’s more is that the age is starting to show, and it is getting to be a real problem for the people in this country who are becoming more politically aware.

Over the last ten years, technology has changed everything.  As more and more people are becoming connected online, the cultural values and the like that have dominated society are eroding away.  Culture is becoming one online.  The online communities are growing every day.  Technology has linked our world together the way nothing ever has before.  It is an amazing time to be alive.

The problem is that while the technology is becoming a river of discovery and growth, the government of this country is behind.  This government is living in the 20th Century.  There is proof like no other when you look at how things are being handled right now.

At the end of the 90’s, things were great for this country.  Our economy was on top of the world, and there were no signs that things were going to go wrong.  Not on the surface, anyway.  Our government, especially the Republican side of the fence, keeps wanting to go back to that.  They don’t seem to realize that we can never go back to that.

The reasons are simple – everything has changed since 1999.  The world is a 100% different place than it was at the end of the century.  The Internet has changed business in this world forever.  Technology has changed the way people live their lives.  The economy dramatically failing has changed the opportunities this country has.  And most of all, the demographics have drastically changed.

Other nations have figured this out, and have taken steps to change with the times.  Europe has invested in infrastructure.  While many nations are in bad shape, many others are holding strong.  They have an up-to-date transit system, universal health care, a national wireless service.  They aren’t investing the way America is in war and bad business practices, along with deregulation.  They are embracing the future of technology.  Some nations quicker than others, but America is going next to nowhere in a big hurry.

Asia is really coming into its own too.  Japan is looking to be coming out of the economic slump that it has been in for the last twenty years.  China is rapidly expanding their economic power.  South Korea has the largest wireless network on the face of the planet, universal health care, and they are doing very well.

Even our friends close to home are doing pretty good.  Canada is holding strong.  They have some problems, but they are holding out.  Meanwhile, America is falling into a grave of economic failure.  This country is headed in the wrong direction again, and fast.

We haven’t learned that the way we are doing business isn’t working.  The reason we haven’t learned that, in my opinion, is because our nation’s congress is too old.  We have an old guard, and they want to do things the way that they have always been done.  But as we have seen, that system is no longer palatable.  The times have changed, and we have to change with them.  But the old guard is looking to keep things the way they always were.

And the old guard doesn’t stop at the government.  The people who run the corporations aren’t figuring it out either.  SOPA and PIPA are the result of the media industry not wanting things to change.  Never mind that what they call “piracy” has changed the shape of business forever.  Napster opened the flood-gates of a new way of doing business, and it has changed the face of business not just in America, but across the globe.

That’s the really ugly part of SOPA and PIPA.  They wouldn’t just hurt business here in America, but across the globe.  It would effectively kill the internet.  It would destroy the livelihoods of thousands, maybe millions of people.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Yahoo, all of those sites would be gone in a day.  Because these acts aren’t targeted, like the DMCA was.  These are a nuclear weapon, because the media industry has realized that this isn’t going to be stopped.  The technology is going to grow and change things even more.

There is hope, though.  There are signs that the old guard is being fought against.  The Occupy movement has shown that the young guard is growing, and they are tired of things staying the way they are.  They know what I know – that things can be better, if we change the way we do things.

For 50 years, deregulation and “free market” has been the mantra.  We’re now seeing that that isn’t going to work anymore.  America isn’t the massive growing market.  We have stopped our growth spurt.  Now things have to change.  And the youth are getting active.  However, more needs to happen.  We have to elect younger leaders with an eye for changing things.  These old men and women who run Congress are driving us into the ground.

So, what’s your next move?

Peace out,

Lefty

Homeland Security tasked with watching American Journalists. RIP, Bill of Rights

There is a new initiative that is being taken by Homeland Security.  It is the National Operations Center (NOC) Media Monitoring Initiative.  According to this initiative, Homeland Security will be collecting information about journalists, news anchors, or anybody who –

traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed.

This basically says that anybody from Keith Olbermann to a small blogger like myself can be targeted.  They have written that their spying is only what is “public information,” but what really raises eyebrows with that statement is the fact that they seem to want to spy on journalists at all.

There was a time where journalists were the one who were tasked with watching government.  they were the ones who were supposed to keep the government accountable to the people.  But it seems the government doesn’t like that anymore.

Oh who are we kidding.  The government of this country has hated the First Amendment since it was enacted in the Bill of Rights.  They have always wanted to get rid of it.  And now, it is looking like they are going to do just that.  Along with the entire Bill of Rights.

SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, along with its twin sister, PIPA, the Protect IP Act, are effectively going to kill the internet.  Or if it doesn’t kill it, it will changed it beyond recognition.  While that is going on, the National Defense Authorization Act has made it so that the government can detain America citizens indefinitely without cause or trial.  While these people are imprisoned, they can also be tortured just like the other detainees we have at Gitmo.

There was a question posed on formspring.me –

Will Freedom of Speech eventually be oppressed to the point that it’s extinguished?

The reply to that questions was very good –

You can’t really view it as an on/off switch. It’s a gradient. Right now, we are on the freer end of the spectrum, but heading the wrong way. If we don’t have some seriously culture blowback soon we’re going to be firmly on the bad end of the spectrum. We can’t let SOPA or PIPA pass.

That’s the absolute truth.  We are headed in the wrong direction as a nation when it comes to freedom of speech and other rights.  The worst part is that there is no cultural blowback.  The Occupy movement is showing signs of having gotten people involved, but unless the public starts really getting involved in what is happening, our rights are dead.

There are ugly signs that things are changing for the worse.  The police who are cracking down on the Occupy movements are attacking protestors and specifically focusing on photographers and journalists.  What exactly do they not want people to see?  With place like YouTube showing the ugliness of what is going on, like with the recent video of soldiers peeing on dead Afghanis, it is getting harder and harder for the thugs who make the police forces of this country to get away with what they could before.

Groups like Anonymous are being treated like terrorists by the FBI, but thank goodness that doesn’t give them much pause.  But very quickly, we are learning that the Bill of Rights may have been on the chopping block for a while, but now the executioner is called.

NDAA passed the Senate with only seven people against it.  Seven people stood up for the Bill of Rights.  How many will stand up for the Bill of Rights with SOPA and PIPA?  In an election year, it’s worth mentioning that Obama backed NDAA.  He also said he would be closing Gitmo, but now it appears like he wants to make it a franchise.

The really sad part is that if somebody who doesn’t know what’s going on, or listens to Fox News reads this, they’ll think I’m fear-mongering.  It’s the tragic part when the even-minded liberals are the ones who are talking fear.  And people should be afraid.

Things have been bad for a while, and the greatest tragedy of all is that there no people with pitchforks.  There are no massive riots and massive calls to action to stop what is happening.  The Occupy movement has done quite a bit.  Now we need something more.  There needs to be public action because we are slowly slipping into a very ugly place.  As the question above said, freedom of speech is a gradient, and the gradient is getting darker.  That cannot be allowed to happen.

If it does, though, and SOPA and PIPA pass, and journalists become the first who are attacked, then RIP, Bill of Rights.  You were fun while you lasted.

Peace out,

Lefty

Tag Cloud