Monday, January 26, 2015

Poe's Law in Action, Swift (in context) Revenge.

Progress continues!

The previous post regarding Fart Misogyny may in fact, be satire.

Of course, no one seems completely certain.

This is Poe's Law, of course, which has become something of a problem with the internet.

If you think it should have been obvious that Fart Misogyny should have been obviously a joke, having read about it perhaps you might want to look into Man Spreading. Which is, of course, the work of men apparently asserting dominance through sitting with their knees splayed and thus taking up more space than necessary and the subject of a campaign by the American city of New York.

While people being inconsiderate jerks on trains is indeed annoying, it strikes me as rather strange to claim it is a gendered problem. It is fortunate, perhaps, that the people moving systems of Arketer Labs are rarely so taxed that a seat isn't available even if the odd person is feeling rather cramped in the crotchular region.

Yet, if we see someone seriously believes that how someone sits down is oppression it's not much harder to imagine such a person deeming how one farts could be oppression.

Everything is indeed problematic, especially microaggressions- which I would note are not entirely without merit if they are in fact horribly termed. Nothing even micro-aggressive about them. Microbiases would have been better.

We are all subject to basic programming as human beings that leads us to be unconsciously preferential to those most like ourselves, it's a natural thing that served a very valuable role in a tribal society.

It WOULD serve us well to be aware of such things and attempt to curb them, unfortunately this is a delicate problem that requires subtlety and empathy as well as the awareness that everyone regardless of race, creed, gender or preferred gaming platform is subject to it.

There is however and unfortunately another bit of human programming interfering, which is to say the desire to feel superior to others. Again, the Quest for Smug. We have people who learn of unconscious unfair discrimination, determine how to perceive it (often incorrectly) and then use it as an opportunity to attack the perpetrator virulently as a monster who is accordingly beneath them.

This bears repeating at this point.

Naturally such an individual is far too lacking in self awareness to realize that by taking such a measure they are not so much as fighting for justice as making the situation actively worse. Their indelicate handling and assault will ensure the target is entirely unwilling to reconsider their behavior in most cases.

Even IF they can browbeat that one individual into succumbing to what is basically bullying, they will provoke what would have been otherwise needless hostility from people observing such.

Pictured, a scientist who was made to cry over this shirt.
But enough about that. I am happy to report that operations have ceased and while I continue to fear we will not be able to pursue the truly guilty, we have dealt with the organization that developed the bio-hazard that causes Strawman Syndrome.

You may recall that we dealt with the individuals who unthinkingly dispersed the weapon over the Arketer Labs facilities by infecting them with the agent they delivered and then curing them.

You may also recall that we had reason to think the creators of the infectious agent were interested in our cure. So, as a precaution we 'tagged' the cured by a means I shall not disclose here before releasing them.

Happily, three of the individuals were soon abducted and carried away to what had up until that point been a very well-hidden bio-weapons facility owned by Kurgan Bio-synthetics.

There was a facility here. It's gone now.
A hearty congratulations to C.Z.S.S. Teams 2,3,6 and 8 for their swift and bloodless seizure of the facility, and safe disposal thereof.

No lesser accolades should be given the emergency teams assigned to determining and enacting a means of dismantling the Kurgan Bio-synthetics corporate infrastructure. So effective were they that precious few could prove Kurgan Bio-synthetics ever existed.

Sadly, while there is proof they were acting on orders from higher up there was no further thread to follow. Which is not to say we have learned nothing at all.

It was not practical to seize the entirety of the Kurgan Bio-Synthetics staff and as such we needed to release much of the staff out of nothing more than their jobs. All participants in the chain of command who carried out orders to create the Strawman Syndrome bio-weapon however have been taken in and will be dealt with non-lethally.

Progress continues!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Progress continues!

Meanwhile I have just learned of a new way in which men have been unthinkably misogynistic.

I shall not let Arketer Labs fall behind on the quest for Progressiveness, for indeed progress is what we are all about.

Pending a release of new flatulence guidelines, all men found to be farting above acceptable decible ranges will be subject to disciplinary behavior including- but not limited to- mandatory dietary fiber restrictions. Cabbage in particular will be verboten.

We shall also institute educational courses to better teach all female henchpeople how to achieve proper equitable-range flatulence in specially prepared spark-and-open-flame free classrooms.

I am afraid I am far too busy to write further, I need to work out the guidelines with HR immediately.

Progress continues.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Shameless Non-Apology and Judgement

Progress continues.

More patience is vital, however.

Complaints abound in the inbox, not all are civil.

I would like to note I understand if my earlier commentary was offensive to you based on your faith as a Muslim- somewhat less so if you were deeply offended on behalf of Muslims, which is somewhat obnoxious.

I consider the point worth the offense and sincerely hope the point can be appreciated in spite of the offense.

The Prophet Muhammad
The offense is not the point, but I consider it a necessary risk. I cannot in good conscience apologize, as I cannot sincerely say I regret my commentary. That said, I hope no one is sincerely pained by it and if pained find it to be fleeting.

Meanwhile I would like to talk about something else.

Increasingly people don't want to be racists, sexists, (insert thing here)-phobics or anything of the sort.

This, is a good thing. No one SHOULD want to be sexist, racist, or most kinds of (insert thing here)-phobic.

Unfortunately it is being complicated by what I have termed 'Smugness Theory'.

Basically, that people will in most cases try to use being correct about one or more facts as a crutch to their ego and accordingly try to be even MORE right about what they're right about in order to shame other people who would otherwise be equally right. Over time, and especially in a group where this sort of thing becomes commonplace, people will inevitably take being MORE RIGHT so far that they radicalize and thus become very very wrong indeed.

Let me give you a hypothetical example on an accelerated timetable.

Person A : Racism is bad! 

Person B : Racism is bad and racists are bad! *smug*

Person A : Racists are bad and should be shamed! *smugger*

Person B : Racists are bad and should have their lives ruined! *even more smug*

Person A : Racists are bad and should be executed! *dangerous levels of smug*

Person B : Person C said something racist! (May not have actually been racist.) *levels hold steady*

Person A : We should destroy them! *toxic levels of smugness detected, klaxons activate*

Person B : Woah, they said something stupid but I don't think they're a monster. *klaxons wane*

Person A : Don't defend racists! What, are YOU a racist? *klaxons redouble*

Person B : No! Of course not! Fuck that Person C! *world ends*

This situation plays out in any number of variants that in all cases result in that most universal of evils, zealotry. It gets even worse when the participants are talking about vaguely defined groups of easily conflated people. Just reread that script above and replace 'Racism' for 'Misogyny' and 'Racist' with 'Gamergate' and 'Gamers' interchangeably.

That, in the context of those profoundly stupid 'Gamers are Dead' articles covers much of the stupidity in #Gamergate and Anti-#GamerGate.

It certainly didn't help that there was enough unethical behavior by the 'journalists' to give the offended Gamers something to latch onto in order to vent their anger. All reforms are a bonus of that, but in the end I would say the people eager to lash out at vaguely defined 'monsters' are the ones to make it happen.

Not that they deserve the credit given every positive turn was achieved in spite of and despite them.

I grew up with the Internet and it used to be absolutely taboo to 'judge' people on it. I remember getting into the odd argument where I felt compelled to defend judging people. 

In short, I was judging people- on the internet- since before judging people was cool- on the internet.

And my oh my if it isn't big business right now.

Unasked courtesy of Married to the Sea.

Now, the more theologically inclined I used to argue with were inclined to quote the Bible at me back then. Which was a point of some irony given that I don't remember any of them actually being Christian themselves. The quote, "Judge not, that ye be not judged," was intended to imply that I was effectively being discouraged by God themselves from judging others, but that is hardly it's sole interpretation. 

Judgement, of others and of yourself, is inevitable. You will and often will NEED to make judgement calls about the people you meet- online and in person. (You see a man holding a knife and covered in blood, how do you respond? Whatever you answer, you'd be judging him to be something.) That said and trusting this detail is known to an Omniscient God, combining this with more from the relevant passage-

"For what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged : and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

 - a more practical and valuable bit of wisdom is derived. Judge wisely. Consider that where you may be attempting to correct someone, you could be even MORE wrong yourself.

You may not be, but the less you are willing to question yourself the higher the odds you're trying to remove a splinter from a buttock while you have a two-by-four for a suppository that grinds behind you noisily, leaving foul smelling sawdust in it's wake.

You should probably get rid of that first if you can.

While initially mocked for a failure to remove his head from it's rectal prison, Arthur Chu would go on to prove God exists and thus doesn't exist, black is in fact white and then die an ignominious death at a zebra crossing.
So, while all the internet struggles to judge each other more harshly (over often flimsy as hell evidence) in a quest to be the smuggiest smugger to ever smug over being right and thus become Judge Dredd- the more certain they are of being right and that the other person/group needs to be destroyed, the more likely they are in fact utterly full of crap.

And cycling back around to the beginning of this, while I do not believe I am mistaken to have made the points I have in previous updates, it is certainly not impossible I have been. I can only hope to dutifully return to this decision where relevant and see if new facts and context have invalidated past assumptions, because none of us save perhaps God have all of the facts and fewer still can be certain of the context- which can change everything.

It's an uncertain world and as such certainty does not serve us well. We all just have to try the best we can with the information available and have faith. In what, I would dare not dictate.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is you can all stop trying to be Smuggier, for I am the Smuggiest.

Progress continues!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Progressive and/or Spineless

Progress continues.

Some tested theories have given us a new lead on information regarding the Strawman Syndrome attacks, meanwhile whatever the Order is up to continues without issue. I really can't say I like where this is going but would like to remind everyone that there is an evacuation plan in place for you and your families in a worst-case scenario.

Meanwhile it continues to be painfully obvious that not everyone who says "I Am Charlie" (Je Suis Charlie), is.

Especially not this guy, who I am told is The Prophet Muhammad, despite his sign.
(Above his head, "All is forgiven.")

I would like to elaborate on why this no doubt well-intentioned cowardice is worlds more dangerous than any number of depictions of Mohammad.

First and foremost, it tells the Terrorists their strategy is working. That someone willing to die in order to kill more can make you all so very scared that you will purge that which offends them.

In practice this could not be better cheer-leading if they formed a human pyramid and really shook those pom-poms.

Meanwhile your paranoia plays right into the hands of the extremists on the other side as well! It's not as if, despite my unusual perceptiveness, I am the only one seeing this. Only where I see cowardice, they see their Muslim Takeover conspiracy theories coming to life.

In the meantime, Charlie Hebdo's message about the importance of free speech and rationality is being perverted by the French Government to come down on that very thing.

And yet, for it's abuse, an alarming number of people are vastly more scared of being called a racist, however untrue, than the loss of their personal freedoms. There are people in forums and Tumblrs ranting about how the Charlie Hebdo caricaturists were racist as if even if it were true- and it could not be more profoundly false- that would change anything.

No one should be murdered over a drawing.

These so-called journalists who are terrified to show drawings are furthermore behaving as if there are precious few Muslims who can see a cartoon without going into a murderous rage. This should be absurdly offensive in itself.

However, as one forums poster said;

"These days critical thinking is what you thought of a TV show."

Now once again I would like to note that even if you are a Muslim inclined to take your faith with deadly seriousness and feel that images should not be made of the Prophet then there is great news.
No one alive save God themselves knows what he looks like. An image of him cannot be properly made in any objective sense. As such, any image you agree is of Mohammad- especially THAT Muhammad- is being imbued with veracity BY YOU.

Why would you agree to do that? Especially if it is the work of some offense-seeking infidel?

(Credit belongs to others for the creation of this thing that is only Mohammed if you agree it is.)
The ways of dealing with offense in a healthy manner abound if you will look for them, they just won't give you the brain-chemical high that getting angry does.

There are people who additionally sincerely believe depictions like those above inspire violence against Muslims. On what evidence? On the contrary I am sure those of other faiths only have greater sympathy for someone else having to deal with the disrespectful or faithless as they have had to.

What doesn't encourage empathy, however, is murder and justification for it.

Meanwhile those of you who think it's great for the government or indeed ANY agency to dictate what people can and can't say for the fear of offense, you play right into the hands of those who wish to dictate what people can and can't say (the question of why becomes irrelevant when you can't speak). You take us that much closer to a culture of mindless obedience.

And now, a palette cleanser and good thing from misfortune.

Progress continues.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lesser Vengeance Achieved and Congratulations to the S.L. Talent Contest Victor.

Progress continues!

The attacks on Arketer Labs facilities have been traced back to certain key origin points, which I can now mention safely as such origin points are no longer in operation.

No fatalities among the individuals working there, for the record. There is no indication thus far that anyone working there knew precisely what they were doing. Apparently they believed they were dispersing an antitoxin at various chemical spills.

Well, they were told that in any case. Apparently the thin story was sufficient for them to do the work even if they didn't believe it.

As an object lesson they have been rounded up into a containment unit, infected with the Strawman-Syndrome producing agent, and allowed to scream themselves hoarse at each other, maybe fight a little.

They have since been cured and released.

It really was an extraordinary sight though, around 30 men and women taking turns in a grand melee over such topics as "Are the contents of Totalbiscuit's Refridgerator Embarassing?" and "Is the boardgame 'Guess Who' misogynistic?".

While an argument could be made for lack of equitable female representation, 1: You aren't supposed to select who your person is according to the rules. It is supposed to be randomly determined. 2: It's an insanely trivial issue.
It is important to note that in these arguments/brawls, there was no winner. No one wins.

We were very careful not to bring up the issue of seal hunting or Inuits however given the bizarrely unifying effect the topics seem to have on the infected.

Still, valuable lessons were learned, all wounds were treated, and no one so much as had their arm cut off by an industrial laser.

Work now continues to determine who employed these people in this attack and where their payloads came from.

In other news, congratulations to Henchperson #912248377 on their victory in the Subterranean Lab Talent Contest. Having reviewed the footage I must concur with the judges that your Maleficent (as portrayed by Angelina Jolie) Cosplay was extraordinary, particularly given your 6 foot 2 inches of height and prodigious body hair.

Don't laugh too hard, there is precedent.

Well done, Man-Faye. Well done.
Progress continues!

Friday, January 9, 2015

About The Murders in France

Progress continues.

But I'm still not going to discuss it. As most people reading this are likely already aware, a very small group of terrorists have gone on a murder spree in France, targeting satirists at Charlie Hebdo. If you were not aware of the details, that link will bring you to quite a few.

Said terrorists were targeting the publication for printing offensive comics depicting the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed.

There has been much talk about how inexcusable it is to murder over cartoons, but there is a question I have not heard asked often.

How did they know it was Mohammed that was depicted?

As maybe depicted here?

Is there no one else living or dead of Islamic faith that is named Mohammed? Why is it the terrorists felt so certain that these were sufficiently accurate depictions of The Prophet to get angry over? Much less kill anyone.

Is this Mohammed? Did the Prophet habitually wear lit explosive cannonballs as a hat and have a mustache that was 50% nosehair?
These, while likely closer to resembling Mohammed than most church icons of Jesus are likely to resemble Jesus-

The Lamb of God has been depicted for a very long time as improbably hippy-ish and Caucasian-looking for a middle-eastern Jewish man.
-are virtually certain to be unrecognizable by anyone who knew The Prophet Mohammed personally.

So, even if you are inclined to, as a Muslim, get really upset over depictions of Mohammed- you really have very little grounds to do so when absolutely no one besides God Himself knows what he actually looked like in any meaningful way. Just a little food for thought.

 Meanwhile, while all the world stands in solidarity behind the slain cartoonists and satirists, there is a certain reluctance to bring up and even celebrate their work beyond making a vaguely related cartoon and to say "Je Suis Charlie."

This is a mistake, because while it shows sympathy in most cases it hardly stresses defiance. There is, it would seem, a bit of a whiff of fear in the air. That, I would warn people, is far more dangerous than an infinite number of offensive cartoons.

I doff the hat I never wear to France and the fallen Satirists of Charlie Hebdo, offer my sincerest sympathies to their families and surviving coworkers, and encourage all the world to be at least as brave as the French.

"What I'm about to say is maybe a little pompous, but I'd rather die standing than live on my knees." -St├ęphane “Charb” Charbonnier 

And to all Muslims, my sympathies do go to those of you who have suffered retaliation from rage-blinded idiots, or who will suffer such. While such instances are likewise unacceptable, the best thing you can do is loudly denounce these people who are so arrogant and bloody minded that they would kill in the name of your faith- over cartoons.

In their zealotry, it is you they hurt most.

Well, after the people they murdered. I mean, they CLEARLY were hurt a fair bit more.

Still, they're not helping you either.

Progress continues.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Rancid Romance and the Flawed Concept of Seekers.

Progress continues.

Much is going on right now, but for tactical reasons it would be unwise to go into details.

So instead, more about Dragon Age : Inquisition. With minor spoilers.

The last time I mentioned this game you may or may not recall I elected to romance 'Cassandra Pentagast'.

This, in hindsight, was something of a mistake.

It turns out medieval interrogators are poor dates. 
Now, to be fair and give credit where credit is due, this should have been predictable. Cassandra does give every indication of being a maniac (if occasionally cute as such), so it should not come as a surprise that their response to romantic gestures is to say you can't flirt with them because they want an ideal and you're the Inquisitor. While at the same time demanding poetry, candles and flowers.

To make any progress in the relationship, you must then fetch flowers, a book of poetry and what turns out to be "The Most Romantic Candle in Thedas".

It came from Fantasy France, so I assume this is a fair representation.
Then, and only then, do they meet you in a secluded grove where you character will suavely speak memorized lines of poetry. To which their response is...

Apparently this is going well though. If it were going poorly I presume she would take out a knife.

Anyhow, a few more verses of poetry and Critical Romance is reached. Sex, presumably, occurs.

Pillow talk time!


Well, who cares what they say, right?

What does SHE think?

If my Inquisitor did in fact just break her neck, as it looks like here, I don't blame her.

She promptly lets you know that you scare her. Just what every man wants to hear from the person they love.

Wait, maybe the Inquisitor has still failed to make his feelings clear.

Let's have him just outright say "I love you."

There is no missing text from this part. This is all she says on the matter. At the moment, she believes the Inquisitor. I am certain he is ecstatic that he isn't thought to be a liar. I mean, he has to prove himself over and over again and but she can't return those three words honestly (because, let's be fair, she IS very honest), but at least she doesn't think he's a liar. That's nice.

So in summary of things up to this point, my Inquisitor is now in a relationship with a woman who is insecure, demanding, critical and incapable of saying I Love You. I'd have him break it off but I'd say the odds of that resulting in a murder-suicide are unacceptably high. Besides, he's a Tal-Vashoth Qunari, maybe he's really into this. Not judging.

And, again with credit to the writers, from all we know about Cassandra and Seekers, this really does make perfect sense. Or maybe it's just Cassandra suffering the effects of Qunari Poison Facepaint exposure.

In hindsight I have to yield that he DOES look like a Madman. (But those are HER words up there, not his.)
But no, it's probably because she's a Seeker. Or for those of you not familiar with the lore, a REAL Inquisitor.

Seekers are made by being magically severed from their emotions and then reconnected to them! This gives them pseudomagical powers. It also makes them the worst detectives in the world.

Why? Well, the process they undergo is called being made 'Tranquil'. It makes people in the game world subjected to it unable to use magic, feel emotion, dream, or care very much about anything.

It turns out that mages who have the Tranquilization process reversed however all but lose control of their emotions. They are prone to exciteability, anger, etc. etc. This is basically Cassandra in a nutshell. She may not be a mage, but she's one of the clear examples that the side effects are universal.

She's not the only one.

This makes them objectively the absolute worst possible people to have in positions of authority, much LESS tasked with determining the truth. Anger and fear make you stupid. This isn't a hollow statement, the studies have been done. It's not even news, the media has been capitalizing on it for years, savvier powers-that-be exploit this to ensure people don't think about the big problems too deeply and thus come up with solutions that might upset the profitable status quo.

And in the world of Dragon Age the Church has made their secret police, responsible for preventing corruption among the police (Templars) entirely out of magically manufactured manic depressives with anger issues.


Comically, in this context the Big Bad not only isn't threatening the World in any meaningful way- he's providing the Common Enemy to motivate the unity of otherwise impossibly corrupt and incompetent societies.

Either the writing is brilliant, or someone at EA is so bad at it they're coming around to brilliance from the other direction.

That said, what a miserable romance.

If you read this expecting something else, my apologies.

In the meantime, progress continues!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Deep Seven : #15, Inbox, Invitation

Progress continues!

Deep in an abyssal sea, the Nanite cloud has begun work on the basic framework of Deep Seven. The foundation, I am happy to report, is more or less complete. Fortunately during this latest biological attack it was revealed that the location of Deep Seven's construction has remained secret as there was no outbreak of Strawman Syndrome among the oversight crew.

There have been no further attacks by the mysterious sea creatures, but their song has been heard. Whatever they are, they're watching.

From the Inbox!

Dear Director,

I assume I can safely speak for everyone when I say Thank You for your contributions to the New Years celebration. However, I am sure you are aware that some of the parties exceeded good taste to a fair degree. Will there be repercussions?

Yes, though limited. While I am myself a proponent of responsible celebration, especially after the events of this year I can certainly understand the value of allowing people to unwind in whatever manner they see fit- within reason. Hence the lab lockdowns. Additionally, in making alcohol unusually more accessible I suppose one should expect a certain percentage of any populace to imbibe a bit too much.

So, repercussions are as such, security footage has recorded most of the excessive events you likely refer to and while most of it will as a matter of course be erased, those detailing acts of vandalism or particularly unpleasant bits of messmaking will be copied and forwarded to those responsible along with helpful information as to how they can best assist the cleaning crews and repair teams assigned to the relevant areas.

As you may also be aware there is a pre-existing volunteer cleanup detail who have not been tasked in this fashion, so please be considerate of them all and just let them get things back in order.

Director Arketer

When can we see some action against the individuals responsible for this attack? I have lost an unconscionable amount of work to this distraction and would see such things discouraged thoroughly.

Patience please. While we have the continuing vague idea as to the origin of the attack, odds are slim we will be able to strike directly at the individual(s) who ordered it. We may or may not, however, have identified the agency employed to execute the order and set about arranging an appropriate response. Time will be necessary, however, to remove all doubt.

As a side note, there is some noise indicating whoever they are is very interested obtaining our cure. I am personally troubled by this as it seems to indicate there is some flaw or shortcoming in their own.

Regardless of who ordered the attack, these people are a dangerously reckless group and given what some agencies have said about us- that should be a most damning indictment indeed.

Finally, I would like to invite the random people who have stumbled across this idle-time project of mine to leave their own questions, either via the comment system or the anonymized e-mail address:

I have it in mind to answer all questions to the finest degree #0 deems operationally safe.

In the meantime I would like to ask, how well do YOU know your signifigant other?

I wonder if I really should move this part to a tumblr...

Progress continues.