Jan 112013
 

Before you watch this, understand, I’m not trying to offer an opinion on who you should have voted for, nor am I a pro-Obama voter. For that matter, I’m not a pro-Romney voter either. I find myself in agreement with Douglas Adams, who wrote:

“It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…”

“You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?”

“No,” said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, “nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”

“Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”

“I did,” said ford. “It is.”

“So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?”

“It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”

“You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”

“Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”

“But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”

“Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”

And besides, who doesn’t love a campaign smear campaign based on a zombie apocalypse? Or Joss Whedon for that matter?

Jan 112013
 

Official White House Response to

Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For

By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

via Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016. | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government.

No, really. That’s the official (priceless) White House response.

When I got to the 3rd bullet point I laughed out loud, literally.

Jan 112013
 

From the IGDA letter to Joe Biden

Unique Artistic Medium

As creators, working in one of the most popular new forms of art and entertainment, we recognize that video game development not only allows us to express ourselves, but the games we make allow players the chance to express themselves as well. Due to the unique nature of interactivity, video gameplay is not a passive, one-way experience, but an active experience that can be exponentially expanded in multiplayer environments. Governments should not be seeking ways to constrain this emerging medium so early in its development by scapegoating video games for societal ills. The U.S. government did irreparable damage to the comic book industry in the 1950s by using faulty research to falsely blame juvenile delinquency and illiteracy on comic books. The comic book industry never recovered in sales to this day. Censoring violent comic books did not reduce juvenile delinquency or increase literacy, it decimated the production of one of the few kinds of literature that at-risk youths read for pleasure. Censoring video games could have similar unintended consequences that we cannot currently foresee. Ironically, comic books are now used as part of the solution to illiteracy, even by the government. It may seem counter-intuitive, but video games, even violent video games, could be part of the solution here, as well.

via IGDA Offers Counsel to Biden Task Force on Gun Violence | IGDA.

via Comic Books’ Disastrous Self-Censorship Offers a Lesson for Games Publishers, Too | Kotaku

Jun 172012
 

I’ve not been following my Google+ stream as actively since getting back from Europe. Busy at work, no motivation to go online, whatever. But when I poked my nose into my stream this morning, I came across a Google+ post that tickled me silly. Mostly because I’ve had a completely different experience than this person…

http://sffiction.blogspot.com/2012/06/needing-help-isnt-crime.html

While I can generally agree with the sentiment, the truth is that I’ve seen welfare abuse and drug use go hand in hand. A half-sister of mine (who was easily 15 years older than I when I was in my teens) had children every two years to stay on welfare/AFDC (aid for dependent children). She also did a number of things under-the-table to earn money to further cheat the system. She was a pro at it. The last time I spoke with her (over 20 years at this point), she’d had five children by four different guys, and at least two them were habitual drug users with criminal records. She dispatched for a stripping company, and I suspect those strippers also engaged in prostitution. In California. In the end, the last I’d heard, she’d ended up getting caught running drugs inter-state and was thrown in jail.

After seeing this kind of abuse, I can’t help but think that mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients is a good thing. I’d even go a step further and mandate (reversible) sterilization or implant birth control, and revoke welfare for anyone who gets pregnant while on welfare of any kind.

The Dangers of Mandating Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients – Yahoo! Voices – voices.yahoo.com.

I’ve got no objections to an increase in welfare costs, if we add programs to help drug users get recovery assistance. While “soft drugs” like Marijuana are (in my opinion) unjustly illegal (being little more dangerous than alcohol), the “hard drugs” are not victim-less. And if it costs extra money to help people recover from those hard addictions, I’m all for it. Fewer addicts in search of their next fix means fewer crimes committed to fund those addictions.

And as far as the claim that being rejected for welfare means more people on the streets. Maybe so, but there are charities and programs out there to help people. Homeless shelters, food banks, etc. Not to mention, if you find yourself without a home, you are very likely to be able to turn to your friends. I’ve been on both sides of that line, and if you’re not a horrible person, people will reach out to help you get back on your feet.

I cannot personally agree with the notion that “since it costs less money to just pay out to everyone who’s cheating the system rather than enforcing standards for welfare recipients we shouldn’t demand minimum standards for those who want help getting back on their feet.” The smallest standard being that they actually want to get back on their feet, rather than just living on the public dole for the rest of their lives.

(And yes, I realize that there are some people who are incapable of living life without help. People who suffer from physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from leading an independent life. But, by and large, these people are not the kind of people who I would expect to be trying to cheat the system… I might even be safe going so far as to say that some of them would be incapable of even planning how to cheat the system.)

Feb 032012
 

Under the sub-heading, Implementation of the Policy with Regards to Conflict Minerals, the document reads:

“We prohibit human rights abuses associated with the extraction, transport or trade of minerals. We also prohibit any direct or indirect support to non-state armed groups or security forces that illegally control or tax mine sites, transport routes, trade points, or any upstream actors in the supply chain. Similarly, Nokia has a no tolerance policy with respect to corruption, money-laundering and bribery. We require the parties in our supply chain to agree to follow the same principles.”

Nokia Publishes Policy on Conflict Minerals.

Ah, well do I remember the era of Cyberpunk 2020 and a world filled with corporations more powerful than governments, able to dictate laws and shape society. While I applaud a policy that has human rights at its core, I can’t help but laugh at the irony of a corporation prohibiting human rights abuses. I, for one, welcome our new corporate overlords.