Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rift, Addendum

Was just re-reading my post on Rift, and realized I should have included one other point in the paragraph about spammers.  It is very easy to ignore them and never be bothered again.

It also just occurred to me that not banning the accounts, but allowing you to ignore them, means the botters aren’t creating new characters on new accounts.  That means ignores I created days ago are still ignoring those people, instead of having to add new names every time I go into town.  (Like Stormwind in WoW: new names on the same gold-farmer ads every time I sign in.)  I guess that’s kind of a plus on the whole thing.

I still like CCP's solution to gold farming in EVE.  They created something called “PLEX”, which you can buy from them or third-party vendors, and then sell in-game.  The buyer in the game gets a “free month” of gameplay, and the seller gets in-game money by spending real-world money. 

Same idea as buying from a gold-farmer, but without the credit card fraud and legal risks.  Players who farm a lot of in-game money get to play for free, and people who would rather spend dollars than time get in-game money.  Nice solution for everyone involved.  And since they sell on an auction basis, the price is set by the market.

Definitely a better solution than ignore-then-ban (like WoW), or just ignore (like Rift).

TV Review: Dark Angel

On a recommendation, I got the first season of Dark Angel from Netflix.  I watched the first disk, and have to say the whole thing sucks horribly.

The basic premise, genetically engineered supersoldiers who mutiny as children and escape into a post-apocalyptic society (created by terrorists using an EMP weapon against the US), is okay.  It stretches even sci-fi credulity, and isn’t even internally consistent within the show, but I could live with it if that was what was needed.

Instead, I get incoherent plotlines, based around absurdities like the main character going into sexual heat because she’s got cat DNA.  If her sexual characteristics were actually built around cat DNA, shouldn’t she also have multiple nipples running down her torso, instead of having Jessica Alba's perfect breasts?  Mind you, I don’t mind that she’s got that sexy body she has.  What I mind is that the story is supposedly built around a supersoldier searching for others of her kind, and instead it ends up being built around some fetish for cats, and jokes about men being weak.

Her best friend dies in the first episode, in a moment and manner that was more predictable than sunrises and phases of the moon.  The rest of the stories and plots are just as predictable, and just as absurd.

The whole thing comes across as having been written by and for 12-year-olds.

So, one disk in (out of five for the first season), I’m sending it back to Netflix.  And the person who recommended it is going onto my list of “never pay attention to them again” when it comes to entertainment.

So, yet again, my dislike of television proves itself out.  Of the shows I’ve recently had recommended to me, not one has been worth the time spent watching it.  This is just the latest in that chain.  Oh well.

Movie Review: Disney’s “Earth”

I saw the previews in the theatre a few years back, so when I saw the DVD on the shelf yesterday, I grabbed a copy.  Earth definitely has some seriously breathtaking cinematography, and the “stories” are definitely interesting.

What I also found interesting is that, in the movie, they have footage of a polar bear swimming in the sea, and the narrative at that point is that “he is exhausted and has run out of ice to walk on, miles from land …”, and the whole AGW narrative is gone into heavily.  But in the “making of” special, it shows that the swimming bear took the plunge from solid land, and made the decision to swim out into the sea.  When they started filming that shot, he was less than 100 yards from shore.  In other words, the narrative is pure, solid, unadulterated lies, purely for propaganda purposes, at least in that scene, and they inadvertently admit this on their own DVD!

And that’s really the sad thing about movies like this, and the politics that they are designed to support.  The AGW movement is a pack of lies designed to support something really, really vital, and thus cuts the throat of the very thing it is designed to assist.  (How 1.1 is that!)

We urgently need to reduce pollution: air, sea, and land.  TEA party activists and members will complain (ad nauseum, if given the chance) about Obamacare and the bailouts/stimulus creating unpayable debts for later generations.  And they’re right about those things.  But the very same thoughts apply equally or more so to the creation of a toxic environment!  These same people should be up in arms about that at the same time.

So why aren’t they?  Because “eco freaks” have spent so much time and effort lying about AGW that they’ve completely alienated anyone who actually cares about the human future.

We need to build nuclear plants, and work out ways to recycle the so-called-waste that they create.  (Technically, there’s no such thing as radioactive waste, there’s just unreprocessed fuel.)  We need them to be safe, so they should be about 2 miles underneath the bedrock.  The plants in Japan are a marvel of engineering, doing as well as they have after the earthquake, aftershocks, and tsunami.  However, if they were deep underground, they would be a non-situation, even in a full meltdown.  Done correctly, nuclear power is potentially the greatest boon to environmental causes since the invention of environmental awareness.

We need to provide cheap, clean electricity to “emerging markets”.  Rent safe nuclear power plants to every country on Earth, and build schools and loan money for industry and agriculture in the surrounding areas.  But the fake eco movement would fight that tooth and claw.  It would be blasphemy against their religion.

So, in this one movie, I see the horrible failings of “the Left” and “the Right”, all in one handy package.  The makers of the movie never intended it to have that effect, but it sure does!

Friday, April 15, 2011


I started playing Rift.  It definitely borrows heavily from World of Warcraft, the same way that one borrowed from EverQuest originally.

It’s got much more complex play mechanics, especially since the Cataclysm expansion for WoW.  Character creation is more complicated, and more choices have to be made.  This means it’s more customizable, but also that it’s not going to get the “I’m not even a nerd, but I play Warcraft” crowd that Blizzard aims for (and gets).

I tried out five or six different mage builds before hitting on one that suits my play style.  A warlock, chloromancer, elementalist ended up suiting my needs and being quite fun to play.  Got her to level 12 and then decided to try a few other classes.

My first cleric ended up being even more fun.  Part “learning the game”, part luck on getting it right the first time.  The build is cabalist, warden, purifier, and he’s great fun and kicks a lot of ass.

I gave other cleric builds a brief shot, but this one keeps drawing me back.

I just tried a reaver, riftblade, void knight warrior, and that’s definitely fun too.  More complex to play (I’m not used to warriors having something comparable to “finishing moves”), but definitely fast-paced and entertaining.

I’ll probably go back and get my WoW DK to level 85.  Probably.  Not sure about that one though.  The game is getting really boring again already.  Too dumbed down, too simple, no real challenges, and not even good means of meeting new people any more, since the dungeon finder ruins that.

In Rift, I’m definitely enjoying the zone-events (the rifts and invasions).  Remind me of the Rikti invasions in City of Heroes, which have always been fun.  Very high-paced, always something to do.  And the “Join Public Group” feature avoids the main downside of the CoH invasions, which has always been the LFG stage of it.

The game doesn’t yet appear to be “raid to get the gear you need in order to raid”, like WoW.  Nor does it appear to be the Monty-Hall-fest that Cataclysm created for WoW.  I’m not sure if it’s well-balanced yet, but it might be.

There are still a few things that have a beta feel to them.  Not like Age of Conan was when first released (and still was a year after going live), but a few details that aren’t as polished as they should be, and a few minor bugs (skin-rendering issues now and again).

It definitely doesn’t have the rich resources for third-party play data that WoW has.  That’s both a disadvantage (can’t look stuff up as easily), and an advantage (WoW has tons of sites out there with out-of-date info that hasn’t been updated to the massive changes in the game since Cataclysm).

The newbie zones are badly plagued by spam from gold vendors and power-levelers.  Safe to assume most/all are scams.  But I’ve hit the “report spam” button on characters, and seen them still botting away two days later, which means lack of attention from Trion on that point.

Long-term entertainment value, and issues like customer service, are yet to be seen, of course (the game is still brand new for all practical purposes).  But I have to say, I like it so far.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Movie Review: Your Highness

Just watched Your Highness, and was pleasantly surprised.  I was hoping it would be good, afraid it would stink horribly, but the previews were enough to draw me in (Natalie Portman in a chainmail bikini goes a long ways in that direction).

It was incredibly crude, quite lewd (mostly language, but a lot of bare-breasted women as well [though not Portman]), and a lot of homosexual humor.  And quite frankly, hilarious!

If you’re easily offended, or have any sensibilities at all, it’s not the right movie for you.  Otherwise, definitely worth seeing.

It’s not the kind of movie I’ll still be laughing at 10 years from now (like Yellowbeard or Not Another Teen Movie), but it’s definitely worth an afternoon and the price of admission.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Movie Review: Hanna

Just watched Hanna.  It wasn’t quite what the previews made it out to be, but I think that’s a good thing.  I definitely liked it, though they could have cut a few minutes of footage of her running…and running…and running…and running…and… you get the idea.

Saoirse Ronan, as Hanna, did an excellent job, in my opinion.  Portrayed the character well, and played the “oh my gosh, I’ve never seen civilization before” pieces well, without overplaying them.  One anachronism with that bit of the character, but it was forgivable.

Jessica Barden, playing a semi-major part, overdid it more than a bit.  Other than her, the acting in the movie was definitely excellent.  She wasn’t horrible, but she definitely wasn’t good either, and it stuck out badly in this movie, because of the excellence of most of the rest of the acting.  (I think the over-the-top scripting for her character may be at least partially to blame.  I’m not familiar with any of her other work, so can’t tell how much is her, how much is the script, and how much might be the director.)

Cate Blanchett was, I think, a poor choice for the character she played, but she sure made the best of it.  Good acting, but I think the director (Joe Wright) pushed a few scenes too hard and she ended up looking a little awkward in ways that weren’t right for the character.  I think a colder actress would have been better, but I think Cate did a good job making up for that.

And I think Eric Bana has finally made up for HulkTroy was better than Hulk, obviously, and I liked him in Black Hawk Down, and the new Star Trek was excellent, but I think he was a perfect choice for his role in Hanna, and he did an excellent job of it.  He was central enough for this to finally make up the damage.

So I’d definitely recommend this movie to anyone who likes actiony flicks, with the caveat that you’re going to be watching Saoirse run.  A lot.  Get past that, and it’s an excellent movie.  8 of 10.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Movie Review: Lifeforce

Just watched Lifeforce.  Got it from Netflix (of course), based on a recommendation in the sci-fi genre.  First off, it wasn’t as bad as I feared it might be.  Second off, that’s about the best I can say for it.

Mathilda May, in the Dracula role, spent much of the movie naked, and that’s not a bad thing, but it’s definitely not enough to make the movie.

Steve Railsback, in the Jonathan Harker role, didn’t even mail his acting in.  He may have sent it by carrier pigeon or something.

The story is almost directly lifted from Stoker’s book, even having the ship of the dead (except it’s a spaceship) for the arrival from faraway places.  It takes place in England.  It has an insane asylum.  There’s hypnotism involved.  Naked young women happen.  Et al.  Dracula is female, the other vampires from the castle (spaceship) are, perforce, male, and the names are changed.  So nothing creative or new.

The special effects were actually above the standards I expected.  Not too bad for pre-CGI days.

So, while I didn’t dislike the movie, I really can’t recommend it to anyone.  But that’s what I expected going into it.  If you never take chances with what you don’t already know is good, you never expand your horizons.  So I get movies I expect to be disappointed by every now and again.  And every so often, I find that I’m pleasantly surprised to be wrong, and discover a good movie.  I got this one for the same reasons I got The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and that one was marvelous!  So Lifeforce was worth a shot, but came up short.

(I’m looking forward to Hanna and Your Highness this weekend.  One should just be good, the other is a “take a chance” type that I have more hope for than I did for Lifeforce.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Further Thoughts

I had a further clarification on the title and lede for this blog.  Which, I guess, makes this entry recursive.

The whole idea of a thought being “incomplete” as opposed to “wrong” is, I think, a very positive thing.  The idea is, just because I will learn new things tomorrow, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong today.  That’s a clear enough idea that most people wouldn’t reject it, but I think many people, including myself prior to my own clarification, would consider that I was wrong yesterday if I thought something then that, upon learning new things today, turns out to have been subject to improvement.

Hence, instead of accusing myself of lifetime after lifetime of being wrong, I’m instead taking the idea that my prior thoughts were merely incomplete, and that my future thoughts will be more complete, but still capable of even greater improvement.

It isn’t a service facsimile style “I was right, even when I was wrong”.  Nor an attempt to escape from mistakes of the past and not take responsibility for them.  Instead, it’s a positive take on the idea that past, wrong ideas, were merely incomplete, and thus subject to improvement, instead of being irredeemable.

There’s a certain serenity to that idea, which feels quite pleasant.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Huge Win

I had a huge win on course on the Philadelphia Doctorate Course this evening.

It actually breaks down into two wins, and the versions I wrote at the time, in the courseroom, and game to the supervisor, are the originals, but here’s a tiny piece of a summary of them.

Ron was talking about Serenity of Beingness, and I realized that I can remember being in every tone below that on the Tone Scale, but I couldn’t remember what it was like to be in Tone 40, full-on serenity of beingness.  That’s when I suddenly realized that of course I couldn’t remember it!  Memory is facsimiles stored on ridges!  Serenity of beingness wouldn’t have any facsimiles, because it’s a purely-postulated state.  It cannot be achieved through facsimiles, because those are force, and Tone 40 is forceless theta.

This straightened out a bunch of concepts for me, realizing that it’s purely a postulated state.  That gave me some definite and purposeful insight into how it works and what it’s like to be there.

Then, a few minutes later, back in the lectures, Ron mentioned an auditor having to deal with a universe when dealing with a pc.  That was the OH WOW!! moment.  No, wait, let me make that more correct.  That was the moment of

OH WOW!!!!!!!!

I suddenly understood that a universe is what I’m being.  (It’s not what I am, it’s what I’m being.  And that statement shows where English turns into a train wreck when trying to explain non-MEST concepts.)

A universe.  The convergence of all of my postulates.  My space, my time, my energy, because it’s my postulates.

This means I don’t have to worry about “my case” in terms of engrams, et al, it’s just all about handling my causation.  It’s truly that simple.

Recent wins I’ve had on course and in auditing have shown me where I am as a being.  I’ve gone from hating myself and severe contempt for everything “me”, to knowing where I am as a being, just in the last year.  Those set me up for this.

I’ve known for years where I want to be as a being.  I recently discovered where I am.  NOW I KNOW HOW TO GET THERE FROM HERE!!!  This win is really that important to me!

It took a lot of patience on Ron’s part to get me here, and a lot of help from all of his assistants (staff and Sea Org and field Scientologists of various sorts), and I’m very grateful for that.  But the key thing is, I understand what it means to resolve my causation.  To make it possible to sort out my postulates and, thence, myself as a universe.

This whole shift of viewpoint gives me much greater insight into the dynamics, the tone scale, the ARC triangle and interactions with other universes and beings, and into what a postulate really is.

I can’t really express in English, that crippled language that’s better at it than any other on this planet but still falls so short, what all of this means to me, so suffice to say what I’ve said here.  It’s awesome, even stripped of it’s full majesty and grandeur by this clumsy means of communicating it.

And again


Sunday, April 3, 2011


Got Aglaromë (my World of Warcraft worgen deathknight) to level 75 this evening.  The game has definitely changed since I quit two years ago.  I’m finally into new content (new for me, not for the game), and that’s nice.

Aglaromë is forming a personality all his own, which is always a good sign for a character of mine.  Arrogant, confident almost to the point of hubris, he tells NPCs to “Get out of the way of The Undead Werewolf!”, or that they were killed by The Undead Werewolf, and similar things.  He tells undead of the Scourge that fight him, “I was MADE for this!” (Which, if you pay attention to the deathknight backstory, is true), as he defeats them.

I’m having fun with the character, more so than prior WoW characters in prior years.  And I don’t have my prior issues with being betrayed or ignored by guildmates, since I’m pretty much going it alone.  The dungeon finder is a nice addition to the game.  It removes a major source of finding new friends, but it eliminates a titanic source of frustration I had with prior tools for getting into the dungeon instances (since I couldn’t rely on guildies/friends for that at all), so I consider it a net positive.

He’s got his epic flying mount (the level 70 one, not the level 80), and that’s making things much easier and less boring too.  Less time spent getting from A to B, more time kicking ass at B!

I think I like it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Your Shoes Are Untied

Successfully RickRolled some friends online today.  Kind of surprised it worked, but not too much.