The Last Road

Living every day like it's the last… because one day, it will be.

On Guild Wars 2 and Tanks

Posted by Rystefn on November 23, 2012

If I’m playing a game, and there’s a tank option, I go straight for the tanks every time. To those of you that know me, this comes as no surprise. I also have a tendency to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the damned things. Whether it’s perching a Scorpion in your sniper position in Halo or shooting around corners in Combat!, I’ve been annoying the Hell out of people with the things for two and a half decades now. So when I was given a chance in my Guild Wars 2 personal story to lead a tank company charge against a dragon, I pounced on it. (Literally, I play a Charr.)

If you’ve been paying attention to the game, you may have seen one of these bad boys floating around the world of Tyria:
Charr tank

Imagine my disappointment when I was assigned these things:
Charr non-tank

That is no tank. That is a smallish canon mounted on back of an armored dune buggy. By the way, no, you don’t get to control one of them on the quest, either. The closest you get is standing around outside shouting firing instructions at the crew while it parks far too close to the battle and refuses to move come Hell or high water or fifty-foot tall zombies hurling rocks the size of Volkswagons.

The quest in question is buggy as fuck, too.

Remember when they told us that the personal story would be a top-notch single-player RPG? It ain’t. There’s exactly one NPC you will give half a damn about, most of the ones you’re supposed to like, you will hate instead, and while your choices have tactical impact and put you on different story branches, you have zero control over your character’s personality. It’s basically a slightly less compelling version of Age of Conan’s main quest.

Luckily, it’s stuck to a damned fine MMO.

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Authority and Responsibility

Posted by Rystefn on November 2, 2012

I was having a conversation a couple of days ago and a subject came up that seems to be a bit of a recurring issue with our culture. A person of my acquaintance has caught a bit of shit at work because, when her boss was gone, things didn’t get done. Not things this person was supposed to do, mind, things other were people supposed to do. See, she didn’t make them do their jobs, so she’s getting more crap than the people who weren’t working. Somehow, it was her responsibility to make those people work. How was she supposed to do this? Fuck, I don’t know. She doesn’t know. Her boss doesn’t know. It’s not like she can do any sort of reprimand. Hell, the most she can do is report them up the chain, which is exactly what she did, which is exactly why her boss even knows.

She was given responsibility without the attendant authority. This is, in a word, bullshit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

My Basic Outlook on Life

Posted by Rystefn on October 29, 2012

Since I wrote my last post, and more specifically, since I wound up talking (read: arguing with people who think it’s evil) about the subject quite a bit over at the Slyme Pit forum, I’ve gotten a fair few “warnings” from people that actions have consequences. Usually in the form of “I’m not saying I’d do anything, but some people flip out and kill people over that” variety. Never mind that some people flip out and kill people over all kinds of stupid shit, and you’d be a paranoid freak if you never did anything someone might in theory flip out and kill you over. People get killed for cutting people off in traffic, for sleeping with people of the same sex, or different colors… Hell, people get killed for someone else who happens to be from the same country (or near enough) drawing a picture of Mohammad. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Living every day like it's the last | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why I am Polyamorous (and you should be, too)

Posted by Rystefn on October 15, 2012

I’m going to skip over the life story on this one, because it’s not important, and you don’t care anyway. The short version is this: I used to pretend to be a jealous asshole, because that’s what worked. That’s what people expected, and for some fucking reason, that’s what the ladies wanted. Eventually, I got tired of it. I don’t particularly like moderating my behavior for the benefit of other people, so I guess it was inevitable that I would drop the pretense sooner or later.

I’m an asshole, make no mistake, but I’m not jealous. Not even the tiniest little bit. People always try to tell me things like “jealousy is universal” or “everyone gets jealous” and I want to slap them in their stupid faces (see? Asshole) for putting their own bullshit on the whole human race. I literally do not care if my girlfriend is sleeping with someone else. (She is, by the way, more than one.) Pretty hypocrite I’d be if I did, considering how often I’ve slept with other people’s girlfriends.

Which brings me to the part where I talk about why you should open your relationships. Even you do get jealous (and you probably do), you should still have an open relationship, because it’s not doing any good. Probably the opposite of good, in fact. If this is the part where you expect me to go into polyamory being more fulfilling and everyone getting their needs met and that sort of thing, you’re wrong. This is the part where I lay down some cold, ugly pragmatism: I will fuck your girlfriend. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Living every day like it's the last | 12 Comments »

Why I am an Atheist (and you should be, too)

Posted by Rystefn on October 10, 2012

So there are about ten times as many of these essays out there as there are atheists in the world, so I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing this, but it seems like the thing to do. I guess partly because there are a hundred times as many instances of religious people telling each other made-up bullshit about why people are atheists (or pretend to be atheists, but really, truly believe deep down).

My story is pretty straightforward, actually; no sudden realization, no slow acceptance that I’d been taught wrongly. I wasn’t raised a nonbeliever, either. Not deliberately, anyway. The indoctrination just didn’t take. My father was a lapsed Catholic turned deist and my mother was a Southern Baptist. Their solution was to raise the kids in a weakly religious household with the idea that we’d come to our own decision. We’d do the occasional Easter Mass or Vacation Bible School in the summer, and growing up in Texas, we were surrounded by Jeebus-talk pretty much all the time. Staying over at a friend’s house Saturday turned into church with their family on Sunday almost without exception, even well into my teenage years.

None of it stuck, though. You know how, when you’re a kid, you figure out Santa isn’t real, but you keep on playing along for a while because it’s fun or you want the presents, or your parents can’t handle that you’re growing up? As far back as I remember, that’s what I was doing. To the best of my knowledge, it was always a game of make-believe. Same thing with the Easter Bunny and Satan and Jesus and God. It wasn’t until I was old enough that none of the kids my age even pretended to believe in Santa anymore that I started to get that the grown-ups really actually thought some of that stuff was real.

At some point in your life, usually in early adolescence, you start to suspect that you’re smarter than all the so-called adults in your life. By around fifteen or sixteen, most people are completely convinced of it. Imagine that at fifteen, you were the only person you knew that didn’t still believe in Santa Claus. All your “peers,” all the adults in your life, parents, teachers… they all put out cookies and milk and wrote letters to the North Pole saying how good they’d been this year. Then, when the presents didn’t show up, said they just hadn’t been good enough, nevermind that they didn’t get lumps of coal, that doesn’t matter. Occasionally, someone would leave the tag off a present, and that one must have come from Santa, right? That’s what the world looked like to me.

Long story short, I am an atheist because they failed to indoctrinate me as a child.

Now, if someone wants to convert me to their faith, they have to convince someone, not just that their religion is right, but that religion in general isn’t a patently ridiculous concept. That’s a much harder sell. To convert someone from one religion to another takes some work, but the hard part is already done for you. They already buy in to the idea that gods are real things and that faith is a useful trait for a person to have. Now you just slap on some emotional appeals about your god(s) being nicer or stronger or whatever, and you’re golden. To get me, you’ll have first convince me that’s there’s such a thing as gods in the first place.

So far, no one has even come close. I’ve heard a lot of people attempt to justify their faith in lots of different ways. I find none of them convincing, and neither would anyone else who didn’t already believe them. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of the more popular ones I’ve heard over the years. I’m sure many of them will sound familiar.

-The Bible says it’s true and we know the Bible is true because God said so, it says so right in the Bible. No, really, people literally argue that with no intermediary steps.
-A painting implies a painter, a building implies a builder, so creation implies a creator. Also a rock implies a rocker, so you’ve proven the existence of Ozzy Osbourne, I guess, but you skipped the step where you demonstrate the universe is a creation.
-Existence is greater than nonexistence, so the most powerful being imaginable must exist. They pretend there’s a few more steps in it to confuse people, but that’s really what they’re saying.
-“I feel it in my heart.” To which the only response is “I don’t.”
-Everyone really knows God is real deep inside, they just pretend because they don’t want to follow God’s law. A more laughable idea, I’ve rarely heard.

There are more, of course. An endless stream of nonsense and non-sequiturs. Most often, though, they skip right over trying to demonstrate that their god is real and go into why their god is more believable than others or why religion is a force for good in the world or the like.

Lots of people talk about the evil that religion in general and various religions do (and they’re often right). Lots of people talk about whether or not they’d want to live in a world with gods, or a million other nitpicks. Those people are making a mistake. They’re conceding off the bat that the entire concept of religion isn’t patently ridiculous on the face of it. Until you can convince me that Santa is real, I’ve got no interest in discussing what counts as naughty or nice, nor in whether he’ll leave a bundle of switches with the lump of coal.

Posted in atheism, Living every day like it's the last | Tagged: , , | 12 Comments »

You should listen to this

Posted by Rystefn on March 18, 2012

Not just hear it, mind. Actually listen. If this song doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, then you have no soul. I’m not judging or anything, I’m just saying. No soul.

Posted in Living every day like it's the last | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are you Stalking Me?

Posted by Rystefn on July 23, 2011

So, looking at my stats this evening, I came across a curiosity. The top search that’s leading people he is still “opposite of regret,” as it has been since I wrote the post (the English language really seems to need a word that means that… can we hijack one from somewhere else? German? Japanese? Portuguese, I’m looking at you…), but the second place entry was “Rystefn Skepchick.” Now, either someone is really interested to see what I have to say on the subject, or someone’s digging around for a connection, right? Am I missing something?

Look, there’s a history there, and it’s no secret. I’ll give you the whole story, and believe me, I don’t come off as the good guy in it, if you like. I’m just curious: if you’re one of the people running that search, what are you looking for?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

What the fuck is wrong with people?

Posted by Rystefn on July 23, 2011

So, over at PZ’s bastion of idiocy, he pointed out that he had run afoul of the scourge of the internet. A neck-deep bog of misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and every other label he and his crew can think to pile on those who do not toe the party line. Skipping right over the part where disliking something is a phobia, you may be asking yourself what this perfidious den of evil was… Normally, I would hesitate to even type the words, but for your own safety, I must tell you: online gaming.

Yeah, I know. His first mistake was to think that playing WoW makes him a fucking gamer and gives him any acquaintance with the actual world of gamers. May as well call himself a gamer because he plays Angry Birds and Farmville. So, super-nerd that I am, neck deep in nerd pastimes of all sorts, I make the insane decision to wade into that shitstorm and try to explain to them the difference between bigotry and trolling. For some reason, anyone who calls someone a fag as an insult clearly thinks of homosexuality as wrong, despite the fact that in the same sentence, they carefully explain how often they fuck your father. Must be one of those self-hating fags, I guess. Somehow, the idea that a person would use whatever words get a reaction regardless of what they actually are is so alien to them that they cannot even understand what I’m saying. Somehow, by explaining to them what they are dealing with, I have also become a misogynist, bigot, etc.

They cannot grasp that in the world of gaming, “bitch” is gender neutral. “Bitch captured the flag!” tells you nothing about the sex or gender of the person that did it. Of course, rather than admit that they were beaten on that point, they twisted the argument to pretend that by using the word “bitch” as an insult, I was somehow a men’s rights activist. Never you mind that it was actually someone else’s example initially. That person, being one of the True Believers, was immune from such accusations… but what do you expect from people who are so hardwired into tribalism that they thing if you half-agree with someone on one thing, then you are allies and guilty by association, and that if you actually agree of three or four, you must the closest of compatriots and BFFs.

Interestingly, that’s not really the meat of my post here, though. Everyone knows what that festering den is like. Read on for the actual point: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Outrage | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

On Privilege

Posted by Rystefn on July 9, 2011

To begin: I do not deny that this is a real thing. To follow, people mostly need to shut the fuck up about it. I do not think I’ve heard it more than two, maybe three, times being used as anything except a means of dismissing a valid opinion from someone who is making a valid but disliked point. Privilege doesn’t prevent a person from having valid views on poverty, sexism, abuse, rape, violence, or the level of threat presented by these or anything. Everyone has privilege over someone else, but most people also have privilege over each other.

You know how male privilege lists usually prompt a bunch of guys posting women’s privilege lists? Well, there’s some validity to that. Mostly it’s crap, but here’s the big two: I can’t present a personal problem as a gender problem to gain legitimacy, and I can’t present a universal problem as a gender problem because it never occurred to me that everyone has to deal with it.

Both of these have been coming up a lot lately. Does this look familiar? “You don’t know what it’s like, all women live in fear of potential rape at all times!” How many times do women have to say “I don’t!” before it goes away? I would guess a shit-ton more. How about this one: “You don’t know what it’s like to never leave your drink unattended, so you either take it with you or leave it and then get a new one.” News flash – most men don’t leave our drinks then come back and keep drinking them either. This isn’t new. We don’t make a big deal out of it, though, because it’s a stupid thing to bitch about. It’s a universal human concern with a simple fix, so we go about our business.

Worse, the ever-present threat of violence. Men are more at risk then women in pretty much all situations. Somehow this means that women should be more afraid… Quick, what’s the least reported crime? If you said rape, you’re stupid. It’s insane on the face of it. Vandalism. How much graffiti do you see around you? Think about the desks in your high school. Think about street signs and playground equipment with names written on it. Think about the infamous mens room wall. How many of those do you think are reported? Really? Do you actually think rape is more common than that? If you do, then you’re stupid.

Quick, which do you think is unreported more often, rape of men or rape of women? Which do you think gets taken more seriously by people in general or by law-enforcement specifically? Before you start saying that it doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen enough to be important, ask yourself what you have to go on when you come up with ideas like that. The numbers? Of reported crimes? For a crime that you have to admit is very near the top of unreported crimes? A crime that even you, progressive that you are, probably think is funny. A crime the culture we live in suggests only happens to weak and effeminate men – you know, victim blaming… but rape is a women’s problem.

So please, please, before you tell someone to check their privilege – fucking check your own.

Posted in Privelege | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

The Continuing Drama

Posted by Rystefn on July 8, 2011

A new voice of reason has entered the fray… Paula Kirby relates the following:

I see a parallel here with one of the arguments we often have with the religious. Many of the religious don’t want to abandon belief in God because they find the thought of having to stand on their own two feet too daunting: they are afraid of having to take responsibility for themselves. And generally speaking, we atheists might have some sympathy with the fear, but we don’t accept it as a good reason for giving in to it: ‘Tough’, we say: ‘That’s just the way it is’. And that’s sort of what I’m saying here too. All of us have to take responsibility for ourselves, make things happen for ourselves, learn from our mistakes, brush up our skills, and stop waiting for other people to make things easy for us.

You should go read that now if you want to see what reason looks like. If you prefer to see more drivel about privilege and failure to grasp that disagreement might be more than a failure to understand what you’re saying, then you should go here instead. Is there a feminine of “mansplaining”? Nah, that’s not right. It would be wrong to imply that only women get all condescending and talk to people about privilege as though that’s the only reason a person could hold a different opinion…

Also, check out the new TAM schedule.

Posted in atheism, Emo | Leave a Comment »