Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

September, 2008:

BioShock is creepy

Since I just got a computer that can handle the game, I’ve been playing BioShock for the past few days. For those of you who are familiar with the game, BioShock’s creepiness has already been well-established, but I’m revelling in it for the first time.

Little Sister and Big Brother

Little Sister and Big Brother

The atmosphere the developers created is just stunning; art deco designs, creepy evil-clown carnival music, constant leaking, dripping, pinging, echoing background sounds. Combine that with the crazed genetically twisted denizens of Rapture (the name of the underwater city), and the game very closely approaches the level of “disturbing.”

Nothing is more disturbing, however, than the Little Sisters and the Big Daddies. They roam Rapture together, the Little Sister using her giant syringe to harvest genetic goodness from the corpses lying around (mostly thanks to the player). She speaks to “Mr. Bubbles” in a little girl voice and he protects her with a vengeance against anyone or anything that comes too close to her or threatens her.

If you defeat the Big Daddy (which you really have to do), you have the (moral) dilemma of either “rescuing” the Little Sister or “harvesting” her. Rescuing her gives you a warm fuzzy feeling (sort of) and gives you a bit of genetic material that you can use to enhance your powers. Harvesting her gives you no such warm fuzzy, but a LOT of the genetic material. Depending upon which path you choose, the game has a different ending. I’m not there yet, but Mike (the “shoot it in the water” guy) has played it and he rescued all of the Little Sisters and got the “happy” ending. So I’m taking the other path and have harvested all but one.

I’m looking forward to see what sort of twisted ending I get.

Sam Harris on Sarah Palin and Elitism

In an editorial by Sam Harris, this passage really struck me.

Ask yourself: how has “elitism” become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn’t seem too intelligent or well educated.

The rest of the editorial expressed similarly thought-provoking views, but this one specifically caught my attention because the whole idea of “anti-intellectualism” has been on my mind lately, especially with regard to religion and politics.

Here’s the link to the entire editorial: http://www.newsweek.com/id/160080/

You like to WHAT?!

I like to shoot it in the water.
– Mike

*context intentionally withheld

God as Denial of Responsibility

I just read this editorial today and found it very interesting. It’s in English, translated from Norwegian.

God as Denial of Responsibility

Editorial criticism is the only place where religion and politics should meet.

Classic Political Shenanigans

A great example of classic “I am above the law” political shenanigans.

Troopergate probe appears to be unraveling

Though I’m sure both sides partake in this type of nonsense, the Bush administration has perfected it in the last 8 years. It looks like Palin has jumped on that bandwagon as well.

Boy, can she handle a gun!

Yesterday my wife stopped by the barbershop and, while she was in the chair getting her hair cut, an older man walks in and starts a political monologue while he’s waiting. I’ll be nice and just say he was a “conservative,” but his most memorable comment was…

How ’bout that Sarah Palin! Boy can she handle a gun!

Now I didn’t hear the comment myself, but my wife’s interpretation was that, in context with the other things he was saying, he was indicating that this was a strong point in her Vice Presidential qualifications. I can’t say I was shocked, but I was saddened (and amused, but in a mocking sort of way).

Upon telling that humorous/saddening story to a friend, he made a counter comment which I found hilarious because it mocked the guy at the barbershop AND the current Vice President.

It’d be nice to have a VP who could put her boobs in your face as opposed to a load of buckshot like our current one.

Oh my god.

I’m done deciding.

My mind has been made up. I’ve decided who I’m going to vote for in the presidential race. Obama. The deciding factor? Sarah Palin.

When I hear this from Palin…

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right, also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [Soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.

…and this…

I can do my part in doing things like working really, really hard to get a natural gas pipeline, a $30 billion dollar project that’s going to create a lot of jobs for people in Alaska, and we’re going to have a lot of energy flowing through here — and pray about that also — I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.

…and…

But really, all that stuff doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God.

…it sickens and enrages me at the same time.

I’ve had way too much of leaders basing their views and policies on religion rather than logic and common sense. The views expressed by Palin and Bush about Iraq aren’t even a step away from a “Holy War” or a “Jihad.” That’s what they’re actually claiming that the war IS. I’m sure they’d claim that there’s a difference, but based on what they’re saying, there isn’t.

Having religious beliefs is one thing. Foisting those beliefs upon a country you lead is hugely different. Creating national policies based on your religious beliefs is hugely different. Leading a country into a war based on your religious beliefs is hugely different.

Enough is enough. I’ve had more than enough.