The Red, Green, and Blue Elephants in the Room 
Saturday, 31 March, 2012, 19:44
Posted by Administrator
You may have noticed this already, but I like video games. The Mass Effect trilogy happens to be one of my favorites. Think about it -- it's in space (which is awesome), is a shooter (awesome), combines in some RPG elements (awesome), and takes into account the choices you made earlier in the game (also awesome).

As you are likely aware, Mass Effect 3 was released on March 6th. There was a lot of hype surrounding this release -- more than I had seen for the previous installments. There were extended cinematic trailers and such airing during Walking Dead, and the trailers looked a lot like the game. Julie got me the game for my birthday (pre-order) and I was already playing it at 23:00 on March 5th -- digital download copies unlocked at the stroke of midnight on the 6th, Eastern Time.

Throughout the game, "this is awesome" floated through my head. Every mission, every cutscene, every action, every choice ... awesome. There were rumblings on various forums about the ending being supremely anti-awesome, but I wanted to see for myself. I read all of the ending spoilers and decided that I was ready to experience it, so I pushed forward.

I tasted a mild form of disappointment when I didn't get to see the Elcor cavalry, but that wasn't as bad as when I had experienced the ending. So far I have only experienced the red ending first-hand. Without spoiling it, I can safely tell you that there are lots of unresolved plot points and many new questions, which is not what the fans were promised before the release date.

So, to reiterate: I was disappointed by the ending. Does that mean I am going to uninstall the game and ask Origin for a refund? No, it most certainly does not. Did I fly into a fit of rage and throw things around the room? Did I punch my monitor? Did I get depressed and curse the very existence of EA? No, no, and no. It's a video game. Like many Mass Effect fans I, too, have spent hundreds of hours playing the previous installments, carefully making each choice in a way that fits my character's personality, molding my relationships with the crew and with organizations and species throughout the galaxy. Did EA/BioWare screw up? Yep, but sometimes we as fans need to step back, take a breath, and realize what we're complaining about.

Anyway ... I'm going to have to start my second playthrough. My first, Douglas Shepard, ended up dying on the Citadel after making the red choice. Daisy Shepard might have better luck.
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Took a little longer... 
Sunday, 4 March, 2012, 18:13
Posted by Administrator
...but I've got the Auto Show link over there in the sidebar now. Yes, we went on a Saturday; no, it wasn't as crowded as it usually is, but it was still difficult to get good pictures despite being armed with a Nikon D3100 this time. I was most disappointed by Honda because they didn't bring anything new to the show, while Toyota was slinging hybrids and fuel cell vehicles around in their massive display.

Acura brought their freshly-castrated RDX to the show, but they stuck it in a back corner, leaving the current 2.3L Turbo model out front for all to see. Then there was the ILX, which I not-so-fondly call the Acura Civic. I mean, come on -- didn't American manufacturers learn that excessive badge engineering was a bad thing? Learn from our mistakes, Acura.

Lexus relegated their new GS to a single floor model, and an overdone concept. That's not something you want to do for a model that your CEO wants to save here in the US. They lined up four LFAs in the middle of their display, and brought what appeared to be a hybrid version they called the LF-LC.

Pontiac, Mercury, and Saturn were inconspicuously absent. Lincoln brought nothing new to the show; neither did Buick.

It wasn't depressing, but certainly wasn't as exciting as in years past.
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It's February 
Sunday, 12 February, 2012, 18:26
Posted by Administrator
There is an event that occurs every February that I haven't missed in over a decade: the Chicago Auto Show. This year will be no exception. The difference is that I have a proper camera this year, and that Mario has figured out how to say the word "car."

I will go next Saturday, February 18th. Look for a new link in the sidebar later that weekend.
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Woah, what was that? 
Thursday, 19 January, 2012, 13:18
Posted by Administrator
Those of you who know me, know that I tend to avoid talking about politics as much as I can. This is mainly because it's a sure way to piss people off, and I do that enough already by being myself. Another thing I tend to avoid is religion, but that's another story for another day.

Our government threatens to change the Internet as we know it. I'm not talking about sales tax or things like that -- no, I'm talking about censorship. After all, that's what SOPA and PIPA boil down to. The wording of the legislation is vague enough to allow our government, built on the tenets of free speech and freedom of expression among other things, to prevent the citizens from accessing websites that they can get to today. Not only would they prevent access to those sites, but the burden of policing the content would be placed on the owners of said sites, and the punishment for not policing said content is jail time -- more jail time than Conrad Murray got for his actions (or lack thereof) that ended Michael Jackson's life.

Yes, the blackout day is over. That's why you can see this post, why you can access Wikipedia and Reddit. But as much as the news reports that we have won, the fight is not over because the bills still exist. I have contacted all three of my congressmen (and don't go after me, anti-sexism police, because all three of them are indeed men) and have stated my opposition to the legislation. Do I expect my own words to make a difference in how they vote? No, I most certainly do not. After all, I'm not the one paying them thousands upon thousands of dollars to vote the way I say. But if this country is truly a representative republic in which Congress is meant to represent the will of the citizens, SOPA and PIPA will not pass.

This is not the end of it, either. The industries behind these two bills (because, let's face it, no congressperson is intelligent or technologically savvy enough to come up with this kind of thing on their own) still have the money and, therefore, the influence to dream things like this up and try to ram them down our throats. The mass media will continue to gloss over these sorts of things because they support them; it takes a full blackout or a simple protest from some of the largest websites out there to draw the public's attention to what is happening.

Did you ever wonder why movies and music are so expensive? Based on the industries that support these two bills it's clear that the money is going directly to lobbying, which is a fancy and polite way to say bribery. The government places the interests of large industries before the interests of the people, treats people like criminals before they've committed crimes, and dreams up draconian legislation in attempt to put rose-colored glasses in front of our eyes the way China and Iran do, and most of us just sit there and take it.

So, what am I asking for? Why am I posting something this long and rambling? We need a change. We don't need a change in the form of a politician who says "I'm going to bring change"; we need change in the form of politicians who actually make change. There is a list of politicians and their stance on SOPA at www.sopaopera.org. The ones who support it are on the left; the ones who oppose, on the right. The ones on the left need to be voted out of office. End their political careers by sending them home for attempting to curtail freedom of speech -- the freedom of speech that is guaranteed to us, as US citizens, in our Constitution. If you do not, the leaders of our country will continue to trample on it and all the rights and freedoms guaranteed within.
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Happy Birthday, Julie :-) 
Tuesday, 17 January, 2012, 13:45
Posted by Administrator
Happy birthday there :)
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