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Video: TEDTalk – Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

by on Oct.30, 2013, under Articles, News, Science, Videos, Visual Media

There have been some amazing scientific findings regarding stress and the human body.

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Penny Arcade, Pax, & Dickwolves

by on Sep.06, 2013, under Articles, Culture, Gaming, News, Video Games

The past is full of unfortunate events. Actions taken with little to no experience, wisdom, and certainly no hindsight to guide them can have profound effects. We can, at least, hope to learn from them however. Let me take a moment to discuss a controversy, which is still settling, called Penny Arcade’s dickwolves.

First some context, back in 2010 Penny Arcade posted a comic which mentions rape, now infamously known as the dickwolves comic. Now rape is a serious issue and our society has problems with addressing it and many other female related social issues. However when the comic began receiving criticism focusing on the mention of rape and not  the intended commentary on moral ambiguity in games, Mike Krahulik, more well known as Gabe and co-creator of Penny Arcade, responded by mocking the critics, claiming attempts to censor his work and an issue of free speech. This was the start of the actual controversy as fans and detractors angrily attacked each other vocally. The issue exploded further after merchandise referencing the comic was released. Ultimately the merchandise was removed, despite Mike Krahulik public protests, and the entire sitaution settled, until recently when Mike mentioned his regret over the merchandise being removed at a recent PAX 2013.

This issue is very complicated and I covered it in a very broad manner above. I did so because I wanted to share the following links that cover the issue from various viewpoints that hopefully will let us all learn from this. I provide the following links to inform people regarding various viewpoints of the controversy.

The first is a personal post on tumblr by someone claiming to have attended the 2013 panel. The post is effectively anonymous and can’t be verified, but that isn’t the point in sharing it. It’s the tale of a rape victim, who met her raper at PAX and despite the negative associations, continued to attend PAX, that is until she heard Mike’s comments about the dickwolves. The article is a powerful chronicle.

I Can’t Go Back Or Why I’m So Bent Out of Shape about Penny Arcade (A Dream Come True [Tumblr])

The point of linking to this article is two-fold. One to understand why the original criticisms of the dickwolves comic was raised. What effects including rape in a joke, even if the joke wasn’t about the rape, can have upon people. The topic of why it perpetuates rape culture is left for another time. The second is to understand why Mike just mentioning the comic has rekindled this controversy. Why people would consider not attending PAX any further.

Because many people are, and not just attendees but companies as well. Many people have been posting about how Mike’s and the reactions of some of Penny Arcade’s fans are wrong. One such response has been from Wired.com’s Rachel Edidin.

Why I’m Never Going Back to Penny Arcade Expo by Rachel Edidin [Wired.com]

Rachel Edidin covers the controversy very quickly, providing commentary as to why this event is holding gaming as a culture back and why people should just leave PAX behind. Which I feel is a sad statement to have to make. PAX is well-known for claiming to be for everyone, but if what Rachel and the above blogger say, it is only giving lip service to this ideology.

So why is Mike behaving this way? One of the prominent figures of the gaming community mocking critics and inciting bully behavior in his fans?

MovieBob, creator of The Big Picture, The Game Overthinker, and other web series, provides what I feel is a very fair and gamer centric viewpoint of the entire situation, with particular insight into why Mike might be having this way. Warning this is a long article and it rambles a little, but it covers the entire situation and is well worth reading.

Dickwolf’d (GameOverThinker [Blogpost])

Ultimately what Movie Bob is trying to say is Penny Arcade was not wrong to post the comic but at the same time criticizing it for how lightly it uses rape was also not wrong. Neither side was necessarily wrong in this situation. Mike Krahulik’s response to the criticism however, was completely wrong.

Instead his mocking responses very indicative a mentality one might have had in the 80s and 90s. When comics and gaming were often attacked by people wishing to censor it for various ignorant and unfounded reasons. This may have been his reasoning for his actions, even if they still wrong. What is worse his actions inspired unconscionable attacks against critics of the comic by many fans of Penny Arcade. Some of these fans did it out of loyalty, and sadly some did it because of the still pervasive and ignorant misogyny that pervades gaming culture.

Thankfully the tale has something of a happy ending.

Some Clarification by Gabe (Mike Krahulik) [Penny Arcade]

Mike has apologized for all of his actions after the initial strip. I particularly like Mike’s comments about PAX, which I hope is enough to make people reconsider their calls for boycotting the convention.

I sort of see PAX like I see my children. Yes I helped make them and yes they have a lot of me in them but they can be better than me. They can take the good stuff I have and leave out all the bad. Like my kids, PAX makes me want to be better.

At the very least all of us can learn from this controversy. Take the time to learn the difference between criticism and censorship, of the reasons why people become offended, and what can be done to fix the problems of rape in our culture, rather than attack the symptoms.

If you’re interested in other reactions to this entire controversy, one blogger has taken it upon themselves to archive this from 2010 and beyond at the this tumblr, in two large link based posted.

 

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Not all Journalism is Responsible

by on May.20, 2013, under Articles, Culture, Gaming, News, Opinions, Video Games

Kotaku, a video game new site, ran an article by Chris Person, discussing an episode by television journalist Katie Couric. The article examines how journalism can be used to steer your perceptions of an event through techniques and words. In this case it was used to create fear that video games will some how ruin children’s lives. Sadly not all journalism is going to be as blatant as this episode of Katie was.

The only real safeguard against this type of journalism is critical thinking. Is reading, watching, or listening, then thinking about if what you’ve taken in matches what you know, what you can reason out, and even if it does or doesn’t dig a little deeper into whatever its sources might be, before you internalize it as a “truth”. This requires effort. You’re not going to succeed every time. The other way is to try to find trusted sources of news and information, but make sure they earn your trust.

We life in the Information Age now and while that gives us all sorts of awesome things, it should require us to be a responsible consumer of all that information.

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Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search – Part 1 is available!

by on Apr.02, 2013, under Articles, Comics, News, Television, Visual Media

Guess what? Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search – Part 1 is headed to stores and available for purchase from comic shops right now!

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search - Part 1

For those of you who haven’t seen Avatar: The Last Airbender, today is your lucky day! Go watch all of it right now! For our non-US readers, the show is call Avatar: The Legend of Aang outside the US. After that you you’ll get to watch the sequel series Avatar: Legend of Korra and read the last graphic novel Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise (Parts 1,2, and 3)! So much to catch up on and it is so worth it, because one of everybody’s major questions from the first series is finally about to be answered, or at least starting to be answered, since The Search will have 3 parts just like The Promise.

The co-creator of the show, Mike DiMartino, has posted an article advertising the release of the comic. In it he shares his fears about releasing this story. It’s been four and a half years since the conclusion of Avatar: The Last Airbender with this major question hanging over our heads. People have been fantasizing what the answer might be. Will this comic answer it satisfactorily  or will things go the way of Lost? It’s a creator’s dilemma and if you know what question I’m talking about, I recommend reading the article here.

Source: You really want to know what happened to …? by Mike DiMartino [MikeDiMartinoStory.com]

 

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News: If this were a pill, you’d do anything to get it [Washington Post]

by on Apr.02, 2013, under Articles, Culture, News, Politics

If this was a pill, you’d do anything to get it by Ezra Klein [Washington Post]

Medicare is considering shutting down an experimental program they’ve been running for years that cuts cost to over eighty percent of medicare users while improving their lives and health. In the above article, Ezra Klein explains a company called Health Quality Partners has been receiving from medicare will have their funding cut, despite having scientific and statistical proof that their program, which aids people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart problems, and much more, is both successful and more than cost-effective.

The program involves personal care by a nurse, once a month to once a week, depending on the person and the chronic illness. It isn’t a radical or new idea but it is a highly effective one. People have known this for years. The rich have private nurses and even private doctors. Home treatment and a personal relationship with a health care professional allows for far more effective medicine to be administered. People who are intimidated and rushed by our hospital system are more relaxed and open in their own homes, but what is the most surprising and interesting is that it is proven to be cost-effective in the long run.

Ezra says that Medicare management is taking away HQP’s funding due to concerns that it is not easily scaled to a national system and also by pretending that they doesn’t have the authority to continue or grow the program, which they might. Experts theorize that it might be do to a systemic issue with current healthcare practices, in particular a focus on hospitalizations. Hospitals, when run like a business, create a ton of money. The more people get sick, the more money hospitals make. A system which helps reduce the amount of hospitalizations people need, like HQP, is counter productive to a lot of the people who invest in healthcare, who expect a return on their money.

Speculation but it seems sound. If you’d like more information, the link is above and below. I’m not sure if there is anything we can do, other than talk to politicians of course. I’m not sure if there is anything they can do. Hopefully, if medicare does cut HQP’s funding, that they will find some other way, or some other source of money, to continue their programs.

Source

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Wealth distribution in the U.S.

by on Mar.11, 2013, under Articles, Culture, News, Politics

I found this video. It was posted months ago, during the election hype but I didn’t realize that when I watched it. I found it very interesting.

Like all things on the internet, I tried looking into how verifiable correct it is. After all anybody can make a video on the internet, and make up “facts” as they choose. However the video links to several references. The references are all secondary references, but several of those references are from primary references like the Congressional Budget Office, assuming the secondary references aren’t lying. Seems unlikely at this point though.

So I offer you this video on the wealth distribution of the United States of America, circa 2013

References:
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2…
http://danariely.com/2010/09/30/wealt…
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011…
http://money.cnn.com/2012/04/19/news/…

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News: The Museum of Modern Art to showcase video games

by on Feb.04, 2013, under Art, Articles, Culture, Gaming, News, Video Games

So the MoMA, or the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, is building an exhibit that will be open in March. But what will the contents of this exhibit be? Video Games!? But Video Games Aren’t Art! Or so plenty of critics want to claim.

Except that legally, they are, according to United States Supreme Court. But some of modern culture seems to have hang-ups over the idea. Video games are not new. They’ve been around since the sixties. Yet they’re only now starting to receive mass acceptance, mostly because the adult world has grown up with them. The average age of a person who plays video games is 30 years old, according to studies done by the Entertainment Software Association.

But that isn’t the only reason. Even people under the age of thirty might question the artistic value of video games, and I’ll agree, as a whole, most video games are created with the intention of being entertainment to make the creators money. But not all. And even those video games which are created with this intention can have significant artistic merit, for which Mike Rugnetta from PBS’ Idea Channel happily provides many examples.

That is because video games are a unique type of medium. Unlike almost every type of artistic endeavor commonly accepted as art, video games have interaction. Which is what the MoMA is focusing on for their first exhibit.

Are video games art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design—a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity.

The exhibit opens on in March in New York City and will feature 12 different video games from classics like Tetris, to more modern video games like Portal and flOw, and will attempt to expand to many other types of video games.

Sources
Video Games: 14 in the collection, for starters by Paola Antonelli [Museum of Modern Art]
Video Games as art [Wikipedia]
Video games can never be art by Roger Ebert [Chicago Sun Times]
Sorry MoMA, video games are not art by  [The Guardian UK]
Top 5 Most Artful Video Games with Mike Rugnetta [YouTube PBS Idea Channel]
Industry Facts [Entertainment Software Association]

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Article: How A Gun-Loving West Texas Girl Learned To Fear Assault Weapons

by on Jan.07, 2013, under Articles, Culture, News

The following is an article discussing how guns have affected the life of one particular woman, how she grew up with them, loved them, feared them, and feels about them now. A very eye-opening tale for both sides of the current argument and I highly recommend reading it.

How A Gun-Loving West Texas Girl Learned To Fear Assault Weapons by 

Source (xoJane)

 

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Video: Chick-Fil-A and Proverbs 25:21

by on Aug.07, 2012, under Articles, Culture, News, Politics, Videos, Visual Media

While I don’t actually feel the argument that people are required to live by the word of their bible even if they use it as examples of what they believe in I do feel the above video states some particular facts that should be shared, in particular the idea of voting with your money. Corporations like Chick-Fil-A are becoming the defacto leaders of our society because of the money and power that they wield against our governments and, in essence, are bribing us for our vote with their products. And while we can’t always know what corporations like Chick-Fil-A, Walmart, Google, Apple, and the like are doing with their money, we can at least send messages to those who make a public stance for ideas that are hurtful by not giving them money.

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Mur Lafferty is offering up her eBooks for free!

by on May.07, 2012, under Articles, Books, News

As SF Signal is reporting, author Mur Lafferty is offering up all her current eBooks for free for the months of May and June of 2012.

This includes awesome novels like Playing For Keeps, Marco and the Red Granny, and the Afterlife series. I particularly suggest Playing For Keeps and the novella Marco and the Red Granny. You can download the books here.

If you still would like more info about the series, you can read SF Signal’s book descriptions or all the books. Here are the descriptions for Playing For Keeps and Marco and the Red Granny:

Playing For Keeps

The shining metropolis of Seventh City is the birthplace of super powers. The First Wave heroes are jerks, but they have the best gifts: flight, super strength, telepathy, genius, fire. The Third Wavers are stuck with the leftovers: the ability to instantly make someone sober, the power to smell the past, the grace to carry a tray and never drop its contents, the power to produce high-powered excrement blasts, absolute control. over elevators. Bar owner Keepsie Branson is a Third Waver with a power that prevents anything in her possession from being stolen. Keepsie and her friends just aren’t powerful enough to make a difference. at least that’s what they’ve always been told. But when the villain Doodad slips Keepsie a mysterious metal sphere, the Third Wavers become caught in the middle of a battle between the egotistical heroes and the manipulative villains. As Seventh City begins to melt down, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad, and even harder to tell who may become the true heroes.

Marco and the Red Granny

By bringing back the patronage system, a new alien species has transformed the moon into the new artistic center of the universe, and Sally Ride Lunar Base soon gains the nickname “Mollywood.” These aliens can do amazing things with art and the senses, allowing a painting, for example, to stimulate other senses than simply sight. When someone asks a starlet, “Who are you wearing?” she could as easily say “J.K. Rowling” as she could “Gucci.”

Every creative person in the world wishes for a patronage. It’s quite competitive.

Marco wanted one, once. But then his girlfriend got one and shuttled off to Mollywood for fame and fortune, and Marco stayed home, waiting for his own patron. After several years, he gave up entirely. His career faltered. His agent dumped him. And then, one morning, he gets a call. At last he has a patron, at last the aliens want him. But he’s about to find out that an artistic patronage isn’t what it was in the good old days, and that the only friend he’s made, a tiny old woman who’s the star of a blood sports reality series called The Most Dangerous Game, has secrets of her own.

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