Video games, Venezuela and the Vatican

Now there’s strange headline for you.  Venezuela… land of tropical beauty, drug lords, corrupt governements, rebellions, murder, more guns than Mexico City and one of the more violent places to try and take a liesurely stroll down the street on any given day.  And how did this paradise become such a haven for crime and death?  The answer is obvious: Video Games.

Yes, the long-running president of Venezuela – Hugo Chavez – is pushing through legislation to fully ban violent video games in his beloved country.  This makes sense of course.  I mean it has to be the fault of violent video games that put poor Venezuela into it’s current situation.  Just because drug cartels have been murdering each other and civilians since long before Pong was created is no reason to look at this rationally.

In addition, this new legislation would ban toy weapons.  Which is a smart economic move when you think about it.  I mean, why let your people buy cheap toy guns from China when you are building the largest machine gun factory* in all of South America in your country? Keep that money in country and sell those kids real weapons instead.  Besides, that will keep them safer on their way home from school than that old toy would have anyway.  ( * This is an older link but this still seems to be on-going.  I just can’t find any articles online.)

In related news, the Vatican is also calling for an end to all violent video games.  According to the Pope, the Crusades were not the result of theocratic greed and corruption but by early video games.  It seems that demos of Grand Theft Carriage caused quite a stir with peasants and drove the knights to slaughter.  A lesser known but more revolting game called Messenger featured a messenger who had one too many bad days at the Messenger Office and started shooting all his co-workers with a cleverly hidden crossbow.  It is said that this game was an allegory to the Muslims and how mean they were for not giving back land to the church that was never the church’s in the first place.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Telepathic requests for comment to the Pope were not returned by the time I posted this entry.

The importance of good grammar

In an age when even Ameren UE is using TXT speak in it’s new energy efficiency billboards, it’s hard sometimes to even remember what grammar is much less what good grammar would look like.  People spend a lot of time “typing” on their phones and unless you keep up with such things, that TXT you just received from your son or daughter may look like another language or a system error instead of a message.

But grammar – and good grammar – are still important.  That’s something that I hope the kids today will still understand when they grow up texting their term papers into their robotic professors.  Writing is something that can make or break you in certain situations.  I dread the day I see a resume come across my desk written in a hybrid of 1337 and TXT.

Here’s a perfect example I just saw on Facebook.  I notice more and more often that people are skipping capitalization and punctuation in their posts.  I see the number 4 replacing “for” and the number 2 replacing “to” all the time.  But sometimes, you really have to go back and make sure what you wrote is actually what you meant.

Here’s a post from a Facebook friend taken word for word:

My good friend dave brockett was killed lastnight in a motrcycle accident. Please pray 4 his family. Ill let everyone that knew him know when the funeral is gonna be.

This is tragic, of course.  I don’t know him personally but I feel sorry for those that did.  I would have capitalized his name… but maybe I’m just being picky.  Good grammar and writing – no, but it gets the idea across properly.

Now here’s one of the comments to this same post:

let me know when he was a good friend

Where to start?  Ignore the lack of a beginning capital letter and let us jump straight to the punctuation.  Go ahead and read that again and think about what that says.  Now I am assuming that this person was not trying to be an insensitive jerk by asking “When was he a good friend?”  That would just be rude no matter how you feel about someone.

What this commenter must have meant was exactly what he wrote but without punctuation.  Here’s what it should have said:

Let me know when. He was a good friend.

Big difference, right?  That one period between when and he make all the difference in the world.  All of the sudden you go from being a well meaning sympathetic friend to a hateful asshole when that one character is left out.  Keep that in mind next time you decide to write something in a hurry.

District 9: Humans Suck

The wife and I went to go see District 9 last night since we had sent Kira off to live with the gypsies a bit ago (she’s at Grandma Stinky’s, don’t you fret none).  I’m not sure exactly what I had expected but I know that the movie has been getting some strangely good reviews and some interesting hype.  I knew it wasn’t a typical alien invasion movie but that was about it.  Obviously I hadn’t read the description from the link above.

First off – and to sum up – the movie was great.  I see now what all the fuss is about.  But the movie really should have gotten a sub-title.  You know, a little extra title following a colon.  It’s all the rage.  And this movie would then have been titled District 9: Humans Suck.  That also sums it up well.

The movie starts strangely enough in an almost Discovery Channel style documentary but don’t let that fool you.  After some interestingly vague setup, the humans go about being assholes in general to the aliens.  Then some strange things happen and some violence and then the movie completely shifts gears.  I don’t want to give any details because I think the less you know going in to see this movie the better you are.  Just take along an open mind with your five gallon bucket of soda and wheelbarrow of popcorn.

I say that because you probably won’t like some of the things you see.  I’m not talking about the increased level of gore towards the end of the movie because the way it’s portrayed makes sense in the movie.  It is never out of place and only strengthens the real horror of what you are seeing.  That someone wrote a story that is probably the most honest depiction of how humans in general would react to aliens appearing on Earth.  Some of you may disagree and you are entitled to that opinion but I think those who do need to take a look at the news.

What the story is really about is racism at the heart of it all.  Sure there are awesome alien weapons and other things that had me saying “ohmygawddidyouseethatthatwasawesome!” like a five year old.  But, in my opinion, the take-away from this movie is that humans can’t stand minor differences in people of our own race.  How could those same people ever cope with dealing with another intelligent race that is thrust into our society?   Bigger picture themes such as corporate greed, corrupt government agencies and a complete disrespect for life in the search for power also shine through at the appropriate times and bring it all together.

If you are squeamish, you may not like all that you see.  That’s OK.  That’s nothing compared to how the movie  might make you feel about the ethnically different person sitting next to you.

Your wake up call

Maybe you’ve seen this and maybe you haven’t.  I saw it posted on Facebook but the number of people who have watched it on YouTube is really low.

You need to watch this.  If you use your phone in your car or if you have children or other loved ones who use their phones while driving, you need to see this.  This is specifically about people texting but the same goes for anyone not paying attention.

This is a very graphic and realistic dramatization.  Those of you who don’t like the sight of blood may not make it through the whole thing.  It’s very well done.  I watched this at work right before I left and almost started crying when they showed the passengers of the second car.

Maybe its because I now have a baby of my own but that was horrible and will haunt me for a while.  I’ve never texted or written an e-mail while driving but I guarantee that I never will either.  Sure this seems like common sense but this video just drives it home.

You won’t like it but you need to watch it.

If for some reason the YouTube link above doesn’t work, here’s another link.

Tuesday Afternoon

I’m just beginning to see
Now I’m on my way

to another meeting.  Only two today, not so bad really.

Left-over pasta for lunch from Cecil Whitakers All-You-Can-Eat Pasta special that they have every monday.  The tortellini is actually better reheated than it was fresh.  It turns out that I can’t eat as much all-you-can-eat pasta as I once could.  And for that degredation in skills I am actually quite happy.  Sometimes I am still shocked at the portions at restaurants.  I’ve been back from Hong Kong for one year and sadly I have adjusted to the gigantic meals of the Midwest but its sad.  No wonder overweight people outnumber the thin here.  Trained.  Blarf.

I have bought some clay.  My wife printed off a 25% coupon for Hobby Lobby and we went there last night after I got home from work.  I ended up getting some Sculpey Firm which from the descriptions online that I read seemed like a good fit.  I also have a cheap package of what I can only guess is just plain old clay and not polymer.  The package is in 438 different languages and none of them seem to be English.  It was cheap so I thought I would try it out.  I have no idea what I am doing so who knows what will actually work for me.

Kira is off with Grandma and Grandpa Stinky for a few nights.  They get called Stinky because they both smoke and… well… they stink.  I’m sure there’s a nicer way to put it but – no.  Febreze is used so it helps but only so much.  Maybe some day they will quit.  Yeah.

I think we are planning on going to see a movie tonight.

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