To Fire 4/11/08

Hi Fire,

How’s it going? What are you going to be doing this summer? How is WoW going for you now, and how did it go your first time around?

This blog reflects my web-browser based internet activity. I link to about 30% of the articles I read/watch. A couple sites (The Real News, much of Comedy Central) can’t be directly linked to with respect to specific segments.

I’m playing a few games. I’m in an online baseball league for the game Out of the Park Baseball 2007. I also play Renaissance Kingdoms and I play the highly rated flash games on Newgrounds. I also sometimes play oldschool and freeware RPGs. I’ve heard that my local library has new and/or newish PC games for checkout so I’m looking into that in another 10 or so days.

I really like the Newgrounds games not so much for the enjoyment but because they allow me to see developments in gameplay over time – since the games reflect the mainstream games. There’s some pretty cool new gameplay out there, but it’s all very casual and very much non-epic. The Fancy Pants gameplay has brought new life to the platformer genre.

I’m running a semi-vegan diet, if there is such a thing as that. It’s vegan except for two things – I eat at restaurants once every two weeks which almost always includes meat and I drink one quart of chocolate milk once a week. If you ever want to go vegan I can set you up with a diet plan and various substitutions to account for your specific tastes. The diet is not only vegan (and therefore minimal in saturated fat and cholesterol free), it’s also low in sodium (it can be quite low depending on your budget) and high in protein.

I thought that not eating meat would be very difficult, but when I eat meat at restaurants I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as I used to, so going nearly meat-free (like meat every few months) shouldn’t be a problem.

Are you staying in touch with your San Diego friends effectively? Mike and Glenn must miss having you around.

How’s life in San Francisco going?

Brian

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3 Responses to “To Fire 4/11/08”

  1. fire Says:

    I think it’s creepy how you site the exact dates that things happen (when you quit WoW, e.g., or your next visit to the library), but maybe that’s because you write everything down so it’s easy to refer to it. Also it’s creepy that you know exactly how much chocolate milk you drink and when. Or maybe it’s the way you say it. Because I know that I drink exactly one cup of milk a day, but that’s cause I pour it into a measuring cup and then steam it. I’m not sure what it is about how you say things that makes them weird: I conclude it’s the lack of uncertainty. I notice that — in this culture, anyway — people need uncertainty to function and to be comfortable.

    Thanks for the diet recommendations. It’s important to eat healthy foods and to be aware of what goes through your body. Recently I’ve been eating a lot of almonds. Mmmmm, tasty almonds. Well, other things, too, but everything else is pretty boring.

    I played Sims 2 for a few days for a class I’m taking. The class is on interactive narrative and ties in closely to the development of gameplay, as you describe in your post above. It’s about how the story unfolds in a game. In the case of Sims 2, I am going to argue that there isn’t much of a story; the people are like Tetris pieces, and the player just needs to get them to fit together correctly to achieve a goal. You can also argue that the gameplay creates a narrative, but the fact that none of the protagonists ever undergoes an unalterable change (you can nearly always reverse what you’ve done) totally invalidates that argument.

    I am sleepy. The weather here has been phenomenal. I still keep in touch with Mike a lot, and to a lesser extent, with Glenn.

    How are things with you?

    fire

  2. briankoontz Says:

    Me being comfortable is like a fish being comfortable on land. I’m ill-suited to a monstrous world. This is connected in a way to citing specific dates of events (more below).

    Of course, just about everyone is ill-suited to a monstrous world, but most people learn to “adjust” to it. I think it’s important for both the conscience and more importantly for the sake of future reality to not make that adjustment. There are many repercussions of not making that adjustment, lack of comfort being just one. Lack of willingness to take drugs to allow for “adjustment” is another. By not making the adjustment I’ve forced myself to confront everything that makes me uncomfortable – personal issues, family issues, local issues, national issues, global issues. “Adjustment” which leads to comfort is another way to say alcohol that leads to forgetfulness. When Nietzsche dies that “method” shall die with it. According to the population of bars and the sales of alcohol that method is still in favor.

    As far as unalterable changes, the history of the characters is unalterable. That is to say, at Time X in the “real world” character Y in The Sims 2 does some action, which is alterable in the game (according to the horrible Reload Function) but is not alterable in real world history. The narrative is being created in real life through the medium of the game, in the same sense that with an eraser one can “rewrite” a book but the very act of writing and rewriting is an unalterable event in real history. It’s *your* change that matters, it’s your experience that matters, The Sims 2 simply serves as a medium for that experience.

    As far as the digital world itself, everything is ultimately malleable. The only thing that prevents pure potential change are humans and their political power – so for example if you hack a website, citing the “plasticity of the system” – you can be punished and potentially stopped from implementing future changes.

    It is this plasticity that draws humans to the digital world – endless “rebirth”, endless do-overs, endless reloads. But it’s all a sham. The real world cannot be undone, no matter what technology develops, no matter how humans want to “escape” into a world in which that is true, no matter how frantic their reloads, no matter how frantic their religious “rebirths”, no matter how many botox sessions, no matter how many extreme makeover shows they watch, no matter their skill at forgetting or the frequency thereof. Understand just how monstrous a culture is which leads to this reality, this utter abuse and decay of humanity, and you will find it quite difficult to be comfortable.

    Bear in mind that psychologically I’m an ascetic. While asceticism is becoming more common in culture there still aren’t a whole lot of people like me around. I constantly analyze and criticize everything. There’s not a lot of room there for comfort or forgetfulness, and every act of forgetting is in a sense a defeat of my purpose in the world.

    I’m losing my asceticism, but it’s a happy loss. I’ve defeated the world, and now I can be myself. In the Age of Orwell, that is the most that can be hoped for. I live now for the age to come.

    It’s not so much a matter of what is true, but what truth humans can accept into their consciousness and what they can create with their consciousness. Before the Age of Plastics there was an Age of Trivia, where humans filled their minds with facts which had little meaning. In this way they destroyed their consciousness and rendered it impotent.

    It’s also about a lot more than truth. Love is the most important thing to have constantly present in the consciousness – that’s what keeps a person going through every temptation to “adjust”. If truth is a person love is the home that person lives in and without which becomes lost. The American government is working feverishly to control and destroy love – the development of torture is about that.

    Anything can be called a “disorder”. I call the Age of Orwell itself a human disorder. Doctors, those of the privileged middle class who feed at the trough of power, have many names for “lack of adjustment”, all of which they will pass you a drug to “cure”. So that you can “be like everyone else”, so that you too can be “happy” living in the Age of Orwell and the Age of Plastics.

    The point of being “cured” is to take your part as a cog in a machine, a cog that has a certain function pre-approved by the rulers, by the people who feed the doctors whose business it is to make sure you remain a cog. Neither the doctors nor the rulers tolerate talk about the machine itself – it’s the machine they have made and which sustains their own rule. As Margaret Thatcher says with a smile, “There is no Alternative”.

  3. briankoontz Says:

    “How are things with you?”

    Not bad. Whenever I drive to work I have to work hard to avoid potholes on the roads. At work I move many boxes a few feet until I’m sore, then it’s usually time to play dodge-the-potholes again.

    There’s an interesting regressive tax in South Bend. The area around Notre Dame University has immaculately tended roads. A baby was crying. I asked the mother why, and she claimed the baby was envious that the pavement was smoother than it’s ass. Or at least that’s what would happen in a cool world.

    Just a couple miles from Notre Dame in poor person country the roads become third-worldesque, a kind of pitted nightmare of tires everywhere. Even the industrial-strength bus tires don’t fare too well there, and car tires don’t stand a chance. Those poor people who can afford a car get to pay a hefty fee in damaged tires and occasional underbody damage while university-dwellers get to hear envious babies.

    “Thanks for the diet recommendations. It’s important to eat healthy foods and to be aware of what goes through your body. Recently I’ve been eating a lot of almonds. Mmmmm, tasty almonds. Well, other things, too, but everything else is pretty boring.”

    I’m a big fan of Rosarita Spicy Jalapeno canned refried beans, despite that it fills about 45% of the daily sodium allowance. Almonds are high in fat and expensive. They are probably one of the healthiest ways to eat fat.

    My diet is boring for the most part although I’ve been eating delicious pineapple lately. I don’t care much about food so whatever maximizes my health, tastes decent, and is as cheap as possible works for me.

    I haven’t seen much rise in food prices around here – about a 10% rise in pasta, 40% on rice (rice is still super-cheap), beans haven’t gone up at all. Bananas went up 20%.

    “I think it’s creepy how you site the exact dates that things happen (when you quit WoW, e.g., or your next visit to the library), but maybe that’s because you write everything down so it’s easy to refer to it.”

    I don’t write much down – if you’re referring to San Diego that was a unique circumstance. The only memory-tool I use is a daily shopping list. Everything else I write is either for the blog or some other purpose.

    “Also it’s creepy that you know exactly how much chocolate milk you drink and when. Or maybe it’s the way you say it. Because I know that I drink exactly one cup of milk a day, but that’s cause I pour it into a measuring cup and then steam it. I’m not sure what it is about how you say things that makes them weird: I conclude it’s the lack of uncertainty. I notice that — in this culture, anyway — people need uncertainty to function and to be comfortable.”

    That might be an interesting issue for me to examine, but I get tired of introspection. Other people are a lot more exciting to me than I am. I think the way I talk bothers people because they consider it a closed system. That is to say, they think it implies I don’t care what they think because I “know everything already”. They see me as aloof, arrogant, and condescending. There’s probably also a cultural difference in play – I don’t consider uncertainty acceptable in the same sense as a scientist doesn’t consider it acceptable – the reduction if not elimination of uncertainty is one of the main points of the whole intellectual process. Knowledge and reality are objective, not subjective. Culturally, I think relativity is dominant and hence objectivists are treated badly.

    One of the reasons humans don’t debate is that they consider all reality subjective, so there is no point to debate. “You’ve got your reality and I’ve got mine” is their catchphrase. I consider this monstrous and my style of speech in terms of “certainty” may be a kind of stick-poke on moral and intellectual relativism. That is to say, it’s not so much that I’m certain as that I’m bringing into the consciousness of those around me certainty and objectivity, as a kind of ongoing argument against relativism.

    Relativists, in turn, believe that objectivity is oppressive, and perhaps totalitarian and fascist. That’s why science is likewise not in vogue in today’s culture. They believe that even if relativism is not true, exactly, that it’s culturally healthy. They believe it’s involved with freedom. Neoconservatives are immense believers in relativism.

    Since the world is objective, relativists are living in an unreality. It’s a kind of utopia that isn’t even accurate as such, since if everyone indeed had their own reality the world would be a tremendously lonely place, if nothing else. It reminds me of a world filled with gods who can’t stand each other. Objectivity is more than just a shared reality, it’s a shared culture, shared goals, shared visions. Relativists fear that there is no sharing without domination. They have a kind of dark view of the world where in an objective world everyone vies for power – to define the nature of this world that everyone else must live in. Their solution then is to prevent the existence of objectivity in culture and thus in consciousness. This is associated with free market fundamentalism and that rather curious notion of freedom.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you live in hell. However, in this version of hell the demons around you don’t know they are demons. They think they are humans. So you spend 10 years proving they are demons, at least to an extent that doesn’t upset them too much (otherwise they’ll tear you limb from limb which doesn’t serve your purposes quite so well). But whether the reason is stubbornness, ignorance, pride, self-righteousness, and/or flaws in your arguments, after 10 years they haven’t made much progress in the self-realization that they are demons. More of them are leaning that way than 10 years ago, but their progress is woefully slow and hell is being torn apart in the meantime. Furthermore, they simply refuse to debate you. This begs a few questions I’ll now answer.

    — If it’s hell, why should you care about teaching the “humans” that they are actually demons?

    Hell can be turned into Earth. One of the methods for this conversion is for the “humans” to realize they are demons, IN ORDER for them to then have the potential to become humans. It’s like someone who has to admit he’s an alcoholic before he can become something besides an alcoholic.

    — Isn’t teaching things that consider themselves to be humans that they are in fact demons incredibly dangerous?

    Well, sometimes. Most of the time the demons are in such denial that it doesn’t matter what is said to them, and they have no reaction to you other than a kind of permanent mistrust. The smarter and/or more insecure and/or more self-righteous ones can get really angry, which is why caution must be employed at all times.

    — Aren’t you being unfair? Aren’t there all degrees of variation between demon and human that these creatures represent?

    Of course, but any aspect of demonism in a human is very dangerous, and regardless of the degree the vast majority of “humans” are unaware of their condition.

    — If there are indeed all degrees of variation, why say that you live in hell instead of living in, let’s say, limbo?

    In truth we do live in limbo and not in hell. If we lived in hell there would be no path to earth. But without self-recognition and working toward finding earth humanity is doomed to hell.

    Take care. I hope you have a great summer.

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