Archive for August, 2007

First Part of a Series on World of Warcraft – introduction and the early game

August 31, 2007

This series is primarily intended for an audience who has never played the game and possibly has never played an MMOG before, although the last part in particular should be helpful for some players of the game. I stopped playing in September 2006, prior to the release of the expansion pack and the rise in the level cap to 70, so that material is not covered.

It is very important to prepare for this game prior to play. Get friends to join you in playing it. Ideally get a friend who has a higher level character to make a new character to guide you along. If you’re planning to play for at least a few hours a day (non-casual) or if you end up playing that much, you should invest in a headset and microphone and use the free software of Ventrilo or Teamspeak, so you can talk to your friends and/or guildmates during play. With very few exceptions (discussed later) this game is a social activity. I (and perhaps others, given the growing popularity of these types of games) see these games as providing a transition from an isolated mass-media (television) culture to a culture of solidarity. As I describe the game this will come to light.

In this game you possess a character and guide him or her around a color-saturated environment from a close 3rd person perspective, initiating some interactions with that environment. The primary progression of the game involves the degree of power of your character, which rises through “killing monsters” and following orders issued from computer-controlled characters. By “killing monsters” I mean you gain physical proximity with a computer-controlled creature and use various skills to cause the creature to fall (sometimes yielding treasure), which then returns intact in a few minutes (the McDonald’s version of reincarnation). You’ll have choices to make when you construct your character but don’t worry about them – just pick whatever sounds like fun. If your friends are also making new characters coordinate so that each of you chooses a different class – it will help you proceed through the game more quickly.

The cumulative effect of killing a lot of monsters and successfully following a lot of orders is that your character gains levels, gains statisical points and skills which enhances his combat abilities, and then moves to killing different monsters, following different orders, and moving to different environments within the gameworld. So at one point in the game you’ll be fighting in a snowy land and in another a dry desert. The monsters to an extent become more fearsome as your character gains in level.

The gameplay in these games is boring (players call it the “grind”) which is partially why socializing with your friends is so important. What makes these games a valuable social experience is that it helps to coordinate with your friends in killing the monsters and following the orders – you can then raise levels faster and explore more areas of the game more rapidly, gaining a shared sense of accomplishment.

Much of the non-social aspect of fun in the game is based on your character’s equipment. Much as the character progresses in power through levels, his equipment also progresses in power (through levels and otherwise), and has enough variety to keep many players satisfied as they proceed through the game.

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Destroying the term “political activist”

August 31, 2007

Activist derives from “active”, which means engaged in activity, energetic, moving.

That’s a big problem: too many people think that the point is to be active and energetic.

Here’s another term: political agent. This term invokes the point of politics – to have political effect.

Lots of people in America, that is to say the political activists, believe in protest. They believe it matters.

And it does. Sometimes. Often in small ways, very inefficient ways given the large number of people engaged. Meanwhile, just a few members of the elite ruin entire countries in a month, a week, sometimes a day. The elite never need to “protest” anything. Why is it so easy for the elite to ruin the world and so hard for the rest of us to fix it? Why can the elite ruin the world without blinking while the rest of us have to hem and haw and wring our hands over some little crime we commit in stopping that ruination?

What we need is a machine. A machine of political agency, to grind the elite to dust.

You might say – hmm, that doesn’t sound very democratic. The political activists say that.

WAKE UP! We are not living in a democracy and never have. Good luck with your fucking protests and demonstrations, your poor uses of time. Good luck congratulating yourselves on some small gain, some minor concession made by the elite, which they’ll roll back as soon as you blink.

If the problem is the elite themselves, the solution is to eliminate the problem. There’s plenty of research done to “cure cancer”, but for the present doctors do the simple, effective thing: they remove the tumor.

The next time someone tells you he is a political activist, ask him why he’s not a political agent instead.

After a democracy is created, then we can all be mere political activists. For now neither we nor our children can afford such ignorance.

You know what being active and energetic is? – it’s calling being alive. You don’t get a fucking reward for being the same thing you’ve been since you were born. You’d better only treat accomplishment when you achieve actual accomplishment – that is to say making the world, or your country, or your community, a better place. Not for a day until an elite comes along and ruins it – permanently. And if that requires the permanent removal of a tumor, then share the ways of doctors.

Oh, one more thing: doctors also reexamine the patient later to make sure a tumor doesn’t reemerge. And if it does, they remove it again. And again, if necessary, and yet again. Tumors have no place in the human body.

Why are doctors so much more vigilant than American citizens? Why do doctors see themselves as agents of health, instead of being activists of health?

Another quote from “A People’s History of the United States”

August 30, 2007

From Page 627:

“When President Bush attacked Iraq in 1991, claiming that he was acting to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, a group of Native Americans in Oregon distributed a biting and ironic “open letter”:

Dear President Bush. Please send your assistance in freeing our small nation from occupation. This foreign force occupied our lands to steal our rich resources. They used biological warfare and deceit, killing thousands of elders, children and women in the process. As they overwhelmed our land, they deposed our leaders and people of our own government, and in its place, they installed their own government systems that yet today control our daily lives in many ways. As in your own words, the occupation and overthrow of one small nation … is one too many. Sincerely, An American Indian.”

Naomi Klein presents a particularly curious big brother

August 30, 2007

Link

George Monbiot on Neoliberalism

August 30, 2007

Link

Neoliberal proponent Mad Dog in particular should read this.

From Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”

August 30, 2007

Page 577: “In June 1992 more than a hundred countries participated in the Earth Summit environmental conference in Brazil. Statistics showed that the armed forces of the world were responsible for two-thirds of the gases that depleted the ozone layer.”

I’ve never seen this link made before. So a reduction in worldwide (and especially American) military budgets would have a huge positive impact on global warming.

An answer to that

August 30, 2007

From Ray McGovern,

“Think about the ’30s, in Germany. I spent, with my family, five years in Germany, working there, in the ’60s and ’70s, and had all manner of opportunities to ask people young and old how could it possibly be, how could it be that you, among the most highly educated highly cultured people in the Western world – how could you sit by and not find your voice when Hitler was doing those things. How could it be that your churches – your Catholic churches could not find their voice, with very few exceptions {unclear} the primary one, and I still haven’t gotten an answer to that”

This is my response to Ray:

The process of education in the West is primarily one of indoctrination and social control, secondarily of knowledge. Therefore the more extensive the educational system is in a country and the greater impact it has on it’s people the more compliant and obedient those people become to whatever authority happens to be in power.

It is a monstrous lie to convince people that the only learning they can undertake in their lives is through the educational system. Yet this lie has taken deep roots in all modern industrial societies, unexamined by the vast majority of the people who believe it.

It is precisely the people fully indoctrinated, that is to say fully educated, who become unable to think, unable to examine their lives and the world around them. They believe that the state has given them so much, this education that they hold so dear, their livelihood, their lovely wife, their children, their present, their future, that to go against that power, to go against that institution, is tantamount to biting the hand that feeds them. A truth shared by most other dogs.
The power of the state ultimately is about owning and controlling it’s citizens. It’s time we took a close look at just how effective the state is at doing just that.

You’re concerned about fascism in America. Welcome to the club. There’s a simple question to pose to determine whether fascism is coming: “Does the state own the people or do the people own the state”?

Link

The quote starts from about 14:05.

Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive

August 29, 2007

Song and Video

Lyrics

Still one of the greatest rock songs.

A quote from piece of shit James Woolsey

August 29, 2007

“This business of wanting to steal Iraq’s oil is from some sort of left-wing la-la land”.

Thanks for playing, asshole. Thanks for playing.

Former director of the CIA? Ouch… apparently they need more stringent quality control.

The quote is from about 32:20.

“All we had to do is buy it”. LOL… stealing it is cheaper than buying it, dumbass. Someone please teach this guy about the history of imperialism.

Link

Patrick Tyler destroys the credibility of the NYT / Amy Goodman brings the truth

August 28, 2007

Link

Alberto Gonzales resigns

August 27, 2007

Link

This has been the best month for the US government in a very long time. Who says Washington can’t do anything right?

John Pilger – The War on Democracy

August 27, 2007

Link

On the Cuban Five

August 27, 2007

Link

War Resisters of the American War in Iraq

August 26, 2007

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

More of Karl Rove’s garbage

August 26, 2007

Part 1

Part 2

Why exactly is Karl Rove a free man? But oh no, smoke some weed and go to jail!

Bringing the culture of despair to the elite

August 26, 2007

We will never see social change in this country without this – the old optimism is long dead where the idea was to appeal to empathy, or concern. There is plenty of empathy and concern, but none in the hearts of the elite that the appeal is being made to. The elite can never be appealed to on noble grounds.

Which leaves various other methods. Labor strikes (organized and implemented globally) to starve the capitalist beast and bring power to the workers. Armed revolution or assassination to kill members of the elite or to suffer them loss of power. And finally, dominating their culture.

A form of cultural domination was successfully pursued in previous decades through the rise of popular culture, displacing the old “high culture”. But now the elites have embraced popular culture, so a new culture must be put upon them.

How about the culture of “the chickens coming home to roost”? The elite kill hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and elsewhere, so human blood should be poured on them. The elite put millions out of their homes, so their homes should be damaged or destroyed. The elite impoverish the people, so their food should be poisoned. Even if actively pursued the amount of damage and destruction caused will be a minute fraction of what the elite are causing every day in human misery.

Some people are going around the world pushing pies in the faces of the elite. That has no effect except occasionally providing some media exposure. Why should we respond to vast death and destruction with pies? And then we wonder why George Bush holds us in contempt. At least the Iraqis are responding with bullets.

It is not morally acceptable to attack humans, but it is morally imperative to attack monsters. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

The first step, as always, is organizational. An organization “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, which then drafts laws, punishments, everything. A society within the American society. Once the organization gains sufficient strength (which means it must begin in relatively unthreatening fashion) it can implement more and more of its goals.

The original Black Panther Party served as a good beginning basis for this, other than it’s Racism. As long as a similar approach is taken except with a focus on class, not race, we can succeed.

Where most of these efforts fail is with respect to lack of community support. There needs to be not only weapons to defend from the inevitable police action (it doesn’t matter whether laws are broken, the police will strike regardless, acting in their primary role as a political police) but a broad base of community support in America so that the movement will grow after large numbers of people are put in jail, killed, and/or tortured by the police. That’s the only way to win.

The secondary aspect that must be addressed is the ability to root out spies, saboteurs, and provocateurs within the ranks of the organization. There must be a degree of knowledge about the people in the organization as well as the inevitably enemies that use this approach such as the FBI so that this isn’t an issue.

Radical environmentalists vs. corporate media

August 25, 2007

Link

This is exciting – there’s finally starting to be a revolt against the corporate rulers, albeit small and local.

One horrible mouse

August 25, 2007

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

A quote from Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”

August 25, 2007

Page 420 provides a classic:

“A few voices continued to insist that the real war was inside each nation: Dwight Macdonald’s wartime magazine Politics presented, in early 1945, an article by the French worker-philosopher Simone Weil:

Whether the mask is labeled Fascism, Democracy, or Dictatorship of the Proletariat, our great adversary remains the Apparatus – the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier or the battlelines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this Apparatus, and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.”

On Sacco and Vanzetti

August 25, 2007

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The Subprime debacle – welcome to American business culture

August 25, 2007

Link

A few bad apples?… uh, no.

The False Narrative of Bush and America continues

August 25, 2007

Juan Cole yesterday continues with the false narrative, per here. The issues are:

“The Bush administration’s already failed version of the conquest of Iraq…”

The Bush administration did not fail in Iraq. They achieved the goal of funneling several hundred billion dollars from American taxpayers to American multinational corporations. They achieved the goal of destabilizing the Middle East and raising the likelihood of future US presidents continuing to pursue their efforts. Both of these goals were better served by failing in the conquest of Iraq than by conquering Iraq. Just as for the American people, presidents too can be calculated in their ignorance.

“The French general and the American president do not much resemble one another — except perhaps in the way the prospect of conquest in the Middle East appears to have put fire in their veins and in their unappealing tendency to believe their own propaganda (or at least to keep repeating it long after it became completely implausible).”

It’s not about conquest – it’s about money. It’s not about ending war through victory – it’s about perpetual war and thus perpetual funneling (err, I mean funding) for war. Conquest has one fatal flaw – the war ends. It is precisely when the potential for total conquest exists that the crisis begins – since the true crisis for the elites is an end to the ability to expand their power.

“Both men were convinced that their invasions were announcing new epochs in human history.”

Perhaps Napoleon was convinced – Bush isn’t convinced of much, and hardly anything so grand as a new epoch. Bush’s ambition barely goes beyond tying his shoes. Conquest itself is an underlying rhetorical tactic. Bush believes he is conquering while he is doing otherwise.

“The overthrow of a tyrannical regime and the liberation of an oppressed people were constant refrains in the shipboard addresses of both the general and the president, who felt that the liberated owed them a debt of gratitude. Bonaparte lamented that the beys “tyrannize over the unfortunate inhabitants of the Nile”; or, as one of his officers, Captain Horace Say, opined, “The people of Egypt were most wretched. How will they not cherish the liberty we are bringing them?” Similarly, Bush insisted, “Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.”

A call to liberty makes the experience palatable to himself as well as others – surely you don’t take that rhetoric seriously as rhetoric? The American people do not take it seriously as rhetoric.

I enjoyed your piece – but you try to draw too many parallels. The one new thing the Neoconservatives bring to the table is that conquest serves wealth, instead of the other way around. If better ways of attaining wealth are possible they pursue those instead. It’s primarily the relatively rich American people they want to extract money from, secondarily the oil wealth of Arab nations. Extracting domestic funds weakens Americans and pacifies them through greater poverty.

Red and yellow are not the important colors for the Neoconservatives in war. It’s green. The American war in Iraq is the first war in history in which conquest is not even an issue (except in the minds of commentators). The American war in Vietnam was a precursor to this, an experimental prototype.

We are living in the age of Orwell. Wasn’t Napoleon the last Western military leader who actually believed in conquest? The West has been moving to love of money ever since.

On Superbad

August 24, 2007

This movie made me realize that I shouldn’t be holding America and Americans to a high standard.

It was one long expression of male insecurity, mixed with homoeroticism (the two go together). Totally ridiculous. Totally unnecessary. Uniquely American.

Why?

If male insecurity was made a crime America would be a lot safer.

The Myth of America’s faith in its government

August 24, 2007

We heard it in 2003. Then in 2004. And in 2005. Also in 2006. And now in 2007. The future is predictable.

The argument is: “Bush sold the war in Iraq by xxxxx”

Then when Bush changes the argument its: “Bush sold the war in Iraq by yyyyy”.

But who exactly bought it? There were massive anti-war protests before the war. Those were not buyers. There was massive apathy and helplessness: at the very least those weren’t *necessarily* buyers. Weapons of mass destruction might have added to the confusion of the American people, but they didn’t add to their support for the war.

People say, “Beware, Bush is trying to sell a new argument”. So what? We didn’t buy all his other arguments, why would we start now?

There’s a curious effect here. By promoting the narrative that Bush is misleading the American public it appeals to the vanity of that public. It implies that the public *matters*. But Bush needs only the thinnest veneer of civility to get by, only the scantest hint of logic. He doesn’t care whether or not the American public believes him. Why should he? We’ve never believed him before, and yet the bombs continue to fall, the funding continues to flow.

What Bush does need, however, is the perception that he needs the support of the American people. He loves it when he is seen as trying to “sell the war to the American people”. What a desperate man he must be to have to change the motivation for the war every 6 months! What powerful Americans we are for forcing that change!

I’m reminded of a stupid, ignorant man I saw once looking in the mirror and flexing his muscles. How strong he needed to convince himself he was.

Beware those who say, “Beware Bush’s new motivation in selling the war…”

An increasingly multipolar world

August 24, 2007

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