A Quick Post in Which I Insult Melania Trump

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This may not be politically correct, or even particularly polite, but I going to say it anyway… I really despise Melania Trump.

It started with annoyance in the possibility of a foreign born lingerie model as first lady, but rapidly accelerated with her “crowd-sourced” speech at the RNC Convention. This ennui subsided slightly do to her lengthy absence following that episode, but flared once again when she briefly reappeared to do some damage control over her husband’s cringy (or, rather, rapey) comments to Billy “the Bushy” Bush about grabbing women’s genitals (henceforth to be known as “Pussygate”). Blissfully, she once again disappeared after that.

That was until Thursday of this week, when Melania reemerged to aggravate me yet further. This time in major speech in which she addressed the goals of her possible tenure as first lady. These included, an I hope you are sitting down for this one, addressing cyber bullying and online harassment. Yes, you heard that right. I thought she would have used the entire year’s supply of personal chutzpah to rip off the current first lady in a prime time, nationally televised speech, but, no, that was nothing. Not compared to giving a speech on cyber bullying with no hint of the irony of being married to the one of the biggest cyber bullies on internets.

Then Friday night, the Associated Press confirmed an old rumor, that Melania Trump had worked in the United States prior to having a legal work visa. This is without any hair splitting, illegal. For the record, I had thought it rather ironic to such a xenophobic candidate as Donald Trump asking his equally xenophobic supporters (and indeed the rest of the country) to accept his foreign born wife. But now, to find out that she was exactly the type of job stealing, criminal alien that he and they cry about… well, my irony cup runneth over.

What happens now? Well, probably not much. Technically, this could imperil her citizenship, but more likely is that there could be a fine and/ or order to pay back taxes on the income made while on a visitor’s visa. That is of course if there is any consequences at all, which might be unlikely since Trumpskyites don’t seem to face that many consequences.

In parting, I wish I could say that this bit of feloniousness is the worst slime that coats Donald Trump and all that he touches… but it’s only 8am, I don’t start lying this early in the morning.

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Debating Deplorable

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My Two Bits on the Presidential Debates of 2016

I had meant to give some thoughts on each debate separately… but, well, I’ve been lazy. So, now, after three debates and three morning after hangovers, I’ve scraped together some thoughts on the 2016’s Presidential Debates.

A pair of quick note: First, I’m not going to discuss the Vice Presidential Debate too much beyond this note. It seemed that the event was nothing more than two squabbling children both trying to talk over or one up the other. For Tim Kaine, I felt he was highly uncomfortable in the attack roll, a traditional duty of the vice presidential candidate. On Mike Pence, it was interesting to see not only articulate positions different from Trump, but offer his running mate little to no defense.

Second, these are my thoughts based from notes I took the night of each debate and are reflective of nothing more than my opinion.

The Moderators

  • The first debate was moderated by Lester Holt of NBC News and things did not go well. It started before the debate when Donald Trump accused Holt of being biased and a “registered Democrat”… this wasn’t true, but Trump never offered an apology. At the debate Holt had little control over the candidates (Trump in particular) and made no real attempt to gain control. He allowed Trump to interrupt and talk over both him and Sec. Clinton. It was like Holt was afraid to challenge Trump in almost any way. In the end, it was much like Matt Lauer’s candidate forum, in that there was a heavy acquiesce to Trump, if not open bias for him.
  • The second debate was better, it was a town hall style event with moderation from Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz ran a tighter ship and kept a more forceful grip on the candidates. This was despite Trump still interrupting, interjecting, talking over and complaining that he wasn’t getting enough time, only to be told he’d had plenty. It seemed to me that despite the complaints, Trump had been given more time to respond or follow up than Clinton had. This partially because he demanded it, and because even when the moderators wanted to move on he simply kept talking. That said, Cooper and Raddatz did a good job and asked good questions and tried to get the candidates to answer the audience questions. Though I would liked to have seen Cooper follow up more on the question of Trump’s statements to Access Hollywood.
  • I had not held out much hope for debate three or confidence in its moderator, Chris Wallace from FOX News. But, it appears that I sold him sort. In fact he may have done the best job of controlling the candidates, granted they got off topic fairly far several times, but that was from Trump’s rather random answers and Wallace attempting to allow both candidates to answer charges made against them. So, I must say that I was impressed with Wallace by the end of the debate.

Things That Impressed Me

  • Sec. Clinton’s answer on the emails from the first debate. She took responsibility and apologized in a frank and complete manner. First, I feel that, despite the opposition’s attempt to keep the story going, she put the final nail in its coffin. Second, it shows a massive difference between her and Trump in how they react to scandal.
  • Clinton’s response to Trump’s statement about possibly not accepting the outcome of the election was also quite exceptional.
  • Clinton’s calmness, my blood pressure was going through the roof watching, frankly her patience with his belligerence and staggering ignorance was nearly saintly.
  • Donald Trump’s Gish Gallop, named for Young Earth Creationist Duane Gish, this is a rhetorical technique that involves throwing out a critical mass of assumptions and arguments in a rapid fire form, so much so that your opponent is buried in nonsense. This is not a good thing, but I can’t help but be impressed by Trump’s mastery of the technique.
  • Trump’s malleability, prick his thin skin and flies off the handle, tweak his ego and he’s sputtering epithets, but, compliment his kids and he gushes. Again this isn’t a good thing, but just how easy Trump was manipulated was amazing to watch.

Things That Horrified Me

  • Donald Trump’s behavior, he was rude, belligerent, bellicose and petulant. He repeatedly interrupted and talked over both moderators and Sec. Clinton… he interrupted Clinton 51 times in the first debate alone. Trump skulking around and invading her personal space in the second debate was creepy at best. And the “nasty woman” comment in the final debate was simply beyond the pale.
  • Trump’s answer to Anderson Cooper on this creepy comments to Access Hollywood. He basically said that they were only words, Bill Clinton is worse and who cares because ISIS. Well, no, Trump was describing his own actions, that’s not just words. Further, what (or who) Bill Clinton did isn’t relevant, he’s not running and even if he was, how does that change any of Trump’s actions?
  • Trump’s statements about the election being rigged and that he might not accept the outcome of the election and will “keep us in suspense”. This is simply unacceptable, US elections are not rigged and voter fraud is all but unheard of in this country. It’s also dangerous in that it attempts to soothe this electoral butt hurt by undermining the credibility of the elections and these (and all) elections are too important to sacrifice for Trump’s thin skin.
  • When Trump said that the individuals on his Supreme Court short list were “great scholars” who would “interpret the Constitution the way the founders intended.”
  • Trump’s consistent lies. I know politicians lie… a lot, and Hillary Clinton certainly has told some whoppers. BUT, the extent of Trump’s dishonesty is breathtaking. I could put any number of examples here, but there is one that certainly stood out, both because he said it in all three debates and because it was so blatantly wrong as to be funny. Trump said he had been endorsed by ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency of the US Federal Government. Now, ICE is a government agency and doesn’t endorse anyone, but that did not stop Trump from saying it each debate. He was endorsed by an organization that represents Border Patrol Agents, but not ICE.
  • The “because I’m smart” comment about him not paying Federal income Tax was beyond asinine and made for Democratic attack ads.
  • When Clinton respond to an attack in which Trump had blamed her for things that she had nothing to do with, she said something like: “So now that’s my fault too…”. Trump answered “why not?” Because it’s not fucking true you waste of sperm, that why!

Other Things I noticed

  • Donald Trump seems not to have a strong understanding of foreign policy matters. This was on display with this praising of Vladimir Putin and his failure to see Russian aggression as a threat. Same with lack of knowledge about NATO and its purpose.
  • He further seems to lack much understanding in the workings of the US Government as he seems to think that one US Senator has the power to single-handedly change American law.
  • Nor does he have strong understanding of the US Constitution as his answers on New York’s stop and frisk policy and the Supreme Court’s D.C. v Heller ruling showed.
  • Talking the country down. Trump spends an excessive amount of time talking about the problems he sees in the country, that’s fine, but that he discusses those problems as America being, “terrible”, or “sad”, or “pathetic” isn’t fine. So there is the descent of the Republican Party in my lifetime, from Ronald Reagan’s shining city on a hill to Donald Trump’s gold leaf toilet bowl.
  • I feel that the change in tenor by the Clinton camp has been at least partially, in error. At the convention, the Democrats sounded a much more hopeful, pro American tone, this was in contrast to the RNC Convention which was very dower. At the time, I felt that message had resonated well. Now though, the Democrats are much more in attack mode, and I think the hope has been left out of the talking points. I find that disappointing.

Who Won?

Well, that much is pretty obvious… Hillary Clinton, three for three. Though I would add one caveat. When the first debate ended, I was concerned… Clinton had seemed to fade into the background and the focus shifted more to Donald Trump. I had feared that this might make her look weak or, worse, irrelevant. But, the spotlight wasn’t kind to Trump and his words painted a picture of a man that parades his belligerence and ignorance for the world to see. Frankly, his campaign died that night and on its death certificate the manner of death will be listed as “suicide”.

Predictions?

Sure, I’ll engage in some electoral tea leaf reading. At this point Donald Trump is an very similar, but worse, position as Mitt Romney was in 2012. That is needs, absolutely needs, to win each and every one of a similar list of “battleground” states. But with the exception of Ohio, he is doing poorly in all of them. Further, even recent polls showing him up in Florida may not help. Florida has early voting and so far Democratic ballots cast far out number Republican ballots. 

In the end, I think that the Electoral College numbers will be somewhere around 350 Hillary Clinton to  188 for Donald Trump and the popular vote will be separated by 4% to 8% in Clinton’s favor. The real question is not Trump’s loss, but how many Republicans he takes down with him. Fivethirtyeight.com puts the odds on the Democrats taking back the Senate and I don’t make it a practice to argue with Nate Silver.

Next Time

I’m working on some thoughts about local and state wide races that are important to me.. so expect that soon (trademark Blizzard Entertainment).

Well, that escalated quickly…

Guess what? I’m back!

Yes, I know, I’ve been lazy again.

So there are a lot of things I have plans to write about in the near future, including some thoughts on the Presidential debates on some of my more local candidates, some parting shots with Star Wars: The Old Republic and a belated review of World of Warcraft: Legion and more. But, before I get to those, let’s catch up.

On The Games…

I noted that I had come back to World of Warcraft, well I’m still there and slogging my way through Legion. In addition, I spent a excessive amount of time playing Diablo 3 during the summer. Blizzard had made some sizable alterations to the game including an adventure mode, where rather playing through the game’s story, you explore areas and beat up bad guys. They also having been a seasonal campaign, it lasts about two months and contains challenges and goals for players to complete during the season all for unique rewards. Well, I found myself quite hooked during Season Six and it, along with Overwatch, made for great way to bide my time for Legion’s release.

Outside of Blizzard’s offerings, I tried Tom Clancy’s The Division. It’s fun… for a while. I played on console so there wasn’t the massive issue with hacks, but there were still many exploits being used by many players that made the game less than enjoyable. In the end I didn’t last much more than a month. Too bad to, the game great game-play, an amazing environment and interesting story.

On Politics…

I have to admit, I became more than just a little disenchanted with the primary. Partly because the stunning self immolation of the Republican Party was so beyond the pale that I could not even enjoy the schadenfreude in watching the blaze from a safe distance. Granted, with that collection of candidates there really wasn’t an escape from the fallout.

Even more frustration came from the childish, disrespectful clusterfuck that was Sen. Bernie Sanders and so many of his supporters. No, I don’t want to rehash the whole damn thing, but I am going to say my peace.

First, I resent that support of Sen. Sanders became the litmus test for progressives and karat test for ideological purity. I have little patience for forced party purity and to watch Sanders’ supporters and much of the progressive media become a left wing Tea Party was more than disheartening. Especially when that was in support of a career politician that has forty years to talk and precious little accomplishment.

Second, no, the primary wasn’t rigged or stolen, online support, rally attendance, and exit polls do not trump votes and in the end Sanders simply did not have the votes. And, no, those Wikileaks emails do not prove wrongdoing. Rather they show a party incredulous that someone that was not one of them should demand their nomination and that said candidate’s campaign was so poorly that the party had to hold it’s hand through the race. That could be the entire problem… neither Sanders nor his bothered to learn how election worked before running in one.

Lastly, he was the candidate of the entitled and privileged. The vast majority of Sanders’ support came from millennials… college educated, upper middle class, white, millennials. Listening to the more than pathetic reasons that Sanders should get the nomination for a party he did not even belong to all over the votes of party voters was a stunning and infuriating display of entitlement and arrogance. What was even worse was that those demands also would suppress the votes of under served and largely minority communities that vote Democrat. This was a gross display of white privilege and nothing more.

I could say more and there is certainly more to say about the mess that the general election is, but it will have to wait for later.

Finally, Storytime…

Saturday, my friend and I went to a generic chain restaurant for some breakfast food masquerading as lunch… got love all day breakfast. As we sat having a quality kvetch after eating, this couple walked in. They are older, probably late fifties or early sixties. The lady was stumbly and slurring her words as stopped at our table to say something unintelligible before the man pulled her away to their booth. My friend noticed the distinctive odor of cheap whiskey and I got a whiff of the combination of even cheaper perfume and cigarettes that can only be described as Eau de Barfly.

After they pass, my friend and I returned to our conversation… only to be interrupted by the loud voice of the same intoxicated woman, still slurring her words but adding strings of F bombs and other obscenities to the mix. She continued this for five or ten minutes, at which time one of the waitresses stepped into the situation. The waitress told the couple in no uncertain terms that they needed to leave… immediately. This did not make the woman happy and she protested and asked if they could still get a drink or if they could stay if she would speak more quietly. This was to no avail as the waitress stood her ground.

For his part, the man got up and left without a problem. The drunk, well, it took another minute, but she too left. As she did, she continued to complain, mumbling to herself that “this is free country” and in the tone of a besotted preschooler “I guess I’ll just kill myself!”

Well this left my friend and I looking at her then looking back at each other and trying to keep our snark to ourselves… at least until the woman left.

In the end, all I can say is… that escalated quickly.

Visions of Profit and Plunder in the Darkness

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Chapter 13 of Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire is now out, it is called “Profit and Plunder”. I had a difficult time with the previous chapter, “Visions in the Darkness”, I tried four or five times to write the review, in the end I said fuck it. Now, though, I’m going to have to talk about it some, if for no other reason than to give the background of the current chapter. So, let’s get on with it.

The previous chapter starts much the same way they all have, with a conversation between your character and Theron Shan. He tells you that the information gained from the early adventures with Aric Jorgan and Kaliyo Djannis have produced an interesting find… the single transmitter that allows Arcaan to control the Eternal Fleet. A little more quick background here: the Eternal Fleet is Zakuul’s large and powerful armata, it is largely automated and controlled from the Eternal Throne on Zakuul.

At this point you are presented with a choice, send Kaliyo to bug or hack or whatever the transmitter so that our little Alliance has access to it, or send Jorgan to blow it up. It doesn’t matter what call you make, someone gets pissy about it and both end a a similar cluster fuck (more on that later).

After this, Lana suggests that we have a conversation with Valkorian’s dispossessed spirit. This is where this chapter falls completely apart. See prior to this, it had felt that the player and Valkorian had an uneasy, “you need me as much as I need you”, frenemy type relationship. But, no, that’s not how BioWare rolls. They needed to continue on with Valkorian (or Vitiate or whatever) being the most awesome being the known, or even, unknown galaxy. So, we are treated to Valkorian being emmo that our characters have “accepted his power… and now come for his secrets”, but we “have not earned them”. Valkorian further tells us that he is “tired of waiting for us to meet our potential”, and to ask “why he thought we could ever change”. He also states that he brought us out to the wilderness of Odessen so that we could “face death alone”, something he says he have forgotten what feels like. We then have a duel with him that goes the same way the fights with Arcaan… as in, it’s an easy fight in which we beat him around, then loose in the cut-scene.

I’ve mentioned this before, but this expansion has a real problem with what is called ludonarrative dissonance, that is fancy way to say that the gameplay and story of a video are disconnected in such a way that they may in fact work against each other. Mechanically, the duel with Valkorian is rather easy… even with the fact in lieu of a companion we have a “survival pack” with healy type abilities. He is easily defeated, but the cut-scene shows him blast the player character into a cliff face and once again lecture them. This time saying that “this was only a portion of the pain his children will bring” and after “gifting” us a portion of his power, he tells us that if we progress far enough, he’ll return.

After this, we encounter former Jedi Grand Master Satele Shan and the force ghost of Darth Marr. They tells about their failings and how we need to transcend our previous training and become more than what we were in order to defeat Arcann. This, and several other statements, sound a lot like Valkorian, so much so that you have a dialogue option to make that point. Marr responds by saying that “we are nothing like that man”, which is more a diversion from our statement rather than an actual denial.

The two then bid the player to construct a new weapon, in my case a lightsaber, but in other cases it will be appropriate to their advanced class. In the creation of this weapon you can choose to draw from the power of Shan, Marr or both and by stating a preference between the concepts of resilience, transcendence or sacrifice we’ll gain buffs that will affect you when facing off with Arcann (see the guide at Dulfy.net for specifics.) Marr then tells you that this new weapon is imbued with your own essence and part of you and that Arcann wouldn’t be ready for you with this new weapon. Satele and Marr soon take their leave and we head back to the Alliance’s War Room.

When our characters return, we find the mission in progress and going seriously sidewise. Contact is soon lost with whichever party was sent, and if attempts to tell the other to withdraw are met with defiance. This leads to loss of communication with both Kaliyo and Jorgan and the end of the chapter.

Oh, there is a new companion to recruit as well. On Yavin there is a Khem Val clone called Ak’ghul Usar that we can find, free and convince to join the Alliance.

The next chapter, Profit and Plunder, begins in the War Room our characters seeking an update to the situation and being told that no further contact has come from either Kaliyo or Jorgan. It doesn’t appear that much time past since the last chapter, only enough for people to become very tired and a little pissy. The scene ends with Lana saying that we all need rest and Theron saying that Hylo Visz wants to talk. Hylo Visz is our Alliance’s logistics and “procurement” specialist and his a fairly important figure in the lore of The Old Republic. The fast version is that during the war, the Mandalorians blockaded the major space routes between the Core Worlds and those a deeper in space. Hylo Visz lead a successful attempt to break the blockade, but disappeared afterwards. The Alliance makes her first appearance in the game.

As I said, Hylo handles the logistics for the Alliance and because we are all basically outlaws, she has to go through less than legitimate sources to get the goods that the Alliance needs. At this point she says that the Alliance needs a more steady line of funding and that she knows someone that can help. That someone turns out to be Gault Rennow (a former companion of the bounty hunter) and he has a plan. Gault tells us that the Zakuul has plundered a lot of the wealth of the Republic and Empire (something Lana had also told us) and that much of it is stored aboard a stealth transport called the Gilded Star. What’s more, he has a plan to steal it. So, off you go to a gas giant called Vandin.

On Vandin, you pick up some more members of Gault’s crew, first is an Anomid forger named Dretcher. He’s not so happy with Gault, mostly because Gault had both screwed him over in the past and pretty much press ganged him into this plot. So, after some “convincing”… breaking his combat droids, Dretcher reluctantly joins you. With Dretcher’s help secured, you and Gault head off to get one more thing… the warhead to a large missile and collect Gault’s final accomplice… Vette, the Twi’lek thief that had been a companion to the Sith Warrior.

Meeting up with the crew at Gault’s safe house, he goes through the plan. Senya is going to make believe as her daughter, Vaylin and take SCORPIO to control the bridge. Meanwhile, Gault, Vette and we happy players will infiltrate the Gilded Star place the explosive in its vault, detonate said explosive thereby turned into atoms or vapor or something so that it can “sucked” out the remainder of the crew.

The plan goes well, up until the real Vaylin shows up and forces the crew to make a hasty “plan C” exit, and jump off the Gilded Star. We are then picked up by Hylo Visz and head back to Odessen.

Back home, we are treated to a bit of a celebration and a choice of what to do with the excess funds from this misadventure. The party is cut short by the return of Kaliyo and Aric Jorgan. And this is where the otherwise funny chapter gets really unfunny. You find the two in the main hanger arguing about who screwed up more against a background of four coffins draped in Republic Flags… these are presumably members of Havoc Squad. Here we are presented with a number of dialogue options and choices, depended on our previous choices. My Jedi Sentinel tried to destroy the transmitter, but ordered Jorgan and Kaliyo to work together. So, the options I had involved punishing them both, but not anything permanent. My Sith Sorcerer also choose to destroy the transmitter, but ordered Kaliyo not to go after Jorgan, she disobeyed. As such the options I had included forgiving her, exiling her or executing her.

I have not yet sent Kaliyo to hack the transmitter yet, as such, I’ve only seen the interactions that come from the decision in YouTube videos. It will go much the same, if try to keep them working together you’ll end up with choices like my Sentinel had, if not, the choices are similar to my Sorcerer’s, just with Aric Jorgan in place of Kaliyo.

Personally, I heavily dislike both of these companions, however dealing harshly with Kaliyo is much easier for me than doing the same with Jorgan. Partially because Jorgan so willing submits himself to your punishment. He’s written to be a professional soldier who knows he fucked up and he expects to be punished. I rather wish I could punish him, but not so permanently. As for Kaliyo, I think she should face consequences either way. In the version where she saves Jorgan, he states that the squad was fine until she started throwing around thermal detonators in such way that I wondered if some the squads deaths weren’t from “friendly” fire. The other way around, she blows a hole through a wall and with it a large chunk of a hospital. Now, I don’t know that many Sith would care… after all, they seem pretty cool with war crimes, but a Jedi might be horrified.

KillingKaliyo

This might be cruel, but I found the expression on Kaliyo’s face when the player kills her to be hilarious.

Between the two chapters, Profit and Plunders is much better. On the good side, it was fast paced, exciting, and funny with a great dialogue, especially for Gault and Vette, but also for Hylo. Conversely, it was short, it maybe takes 30 minutes. Now, if you’re just reaching the Knights of the Fallen Empire content and going through the original nine chapters and these new ones, this isn’t likely to bother you. But, for those of us that completed the previous content and have been playing these new chapters as they were released, it’s kind of a let down. That said, BioWare did release new PVP content and something called the Eternal Championship… I haven’t checked these out yet, but I will at some point.

As for the last chapter, I can’t say that was an enjoyable experience. In addition to the disconnect between the story and the game play, it marked the very heavy handed return of deus ex machina version of Vitiate/ Valkorian that plagued original game and all but destroyed the Shadow of Revan expansion. Hell, I should start calling this deus ex Valkorian instead, or should it be Vitiate? Ok, maybe deus ex imperator… yea, that will work.

I get that BioWare is trying to present him a detached or aloof, enigmatic quasi deity with Lucifer-like tempter qualities. And maybe… that’s the point. He’s playing the devil, alternately flattering our characters with praise and power or threaten to take it back all to position us in ultimate scheme. Our characters end up as a potential less than willing Dr. Faust. Whatever the case maybe, at this point, I’m rather over it. BioWare needs get past this bland, shallow and poorly written bad guy.

Two pieces of station keeping

I’m trying to stay with Knights of the Fallen Empire through the end of “season one”, which is chapter 16, but I don’t know if I’ll continue it much after. Chapter 16 brings us to August and Legion will launch in September. I did recently subscribe to World of Warcraft and bought Overwatch (which is ridiculously fun), so I suspect that my summer gaming will be dominated by Blizzard products.

RIPCOD-web

LOL!

On the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare disaster. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a video game trailer that was as poorly received. As of writing this it has 12.6 million views, around 244,000 likes and about 977,000 dislikes. Holy shit! Not even the Mists of Pandaria trailer came close to a million dislikes, and it was shit on pretty hard.

It’s an epic understatement to say that Activision misjudged what their audience wanted. They saw that Advanced Warfare did well, but failed to understand that many Call of Duty players wanted a game the returned COD to its roots… including a basis in real world conflicts, with weapons and technology appropriate to those settings. From that, one could be very cynical about the choice to remaster Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and bundle it with this now hated Infinite Warfare… all for $79.99 US.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure plenty of people will by the game in the end… if for no other reason than to get that Modern Warfare remaster (hence the cynicism). Personally, I just more interested in Battlefield 1 and its setting in the Great War.

2016 WTF?

GOP

There can be only one!

In a quick follow up to yesterday, John Kasich is also ending his campaign. He made the announcement late this afternoon.

So, that makes it pretty official, Donald Trump is the GOP presidential nominee. Holy fuck! The next 187 days are going to be a mess.

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.

Also, I didn’t talk about the Democratic side yesterday, and I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Last night Sanders said: “the Clinton Campaign thinks this is over. They’re wrong”. No, no, they are not. Sanders is currently 321 delegates behind Sec. Clinton, not counting the super-delegates. That is a massive deficit for him to overcome, so much so that outside of winning the remaining contests by large margins (think 65-75%), he cannot become the nominee.

Frankly, I feel that Sanders should have dropped out last week, and despite last night’s win, I still feel that he should quit the race. Now may even be better as he could go out on a high note.

I know, Hillary Clinton continued to fight all the way to the convention, but she was never 300+ delegates behind then Sen. Obama. Even fairly late in the campaign, she still had a chance… unlike Sanders.

But the super-delegates might go for Sanders… no, no they won’t. Super-delegates are not bound to a candidate nor the outcome of a primary or caucus. While they are free to support whoever they want, they pretty much always support the candidate with the majority of the bound delegates. The reason for this is that ensures the victory of the candidate with majority support and, hopefully, unifies the party behind that candidate. They are not going to side with the losing candidate, especially one that isn’t even a member of the party.

But Bernie is the choice candidate of America. Yea, this gem was spewed out by a BernieBro who explained that because Sanders did better with non-Democratic voters that were allowed to vote in open Democratic primaries, he should get the nomination. Apparently, for the first time in American history, the votes of those outside the party should determine who that party nominates, not the votes of its members. The worst part of this argument is that the conservative talking head George Will made a similar argument about Donald Trump.

But Bernie polls better against Trump. For now that is true. But given Sanders poor ability to defend his beliefs (as seen in the debates) and how uncaringly vicious Trump is on the attack, I don’t think it would stay that way. Though, I don’t think that Sanders would lose to Trump. The demographics of the current American electorate make a Republican wining the White House a long shot.

But he could run as a third party candidate! That’s doubtful. Sanders isn’t a Democrat, he’s an Independent that caucus with Democrats in the Senate. If he thought he could run as an Independent and make something of that, he could have. But, he chose to run as a Democrat because there is support, a large sum of voters and campaign infrastructure in the Democratic Party, he would not have much of that as a third party candidate. Further, many states require that Presidential candidates be part of a party to be on the ballot, so he’d be attempting to do a write vote, which is difficult to say the least.

It’s time to accept reality and realize that Sen. Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee, that Sec. Clinton will be and that we must work together to keep Donald Trump from any possibility of gaining the presidency.

May the fourth be with you!

Ok, so now that I have bummed myself out and rained on some people’s parades, here is something to cheer us up. Today is May 4th. The day that we nerds celebrate Star Wars! My plans? I’m going to watch my Original Trilogy favorite, The Empire Strikes Back and my new favorite, The Force Awakens, while pretending the Prequels don’t exist. Also, I’m off to play the newest chapter for Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire as it dropped for subscribers yesterday and for everyone else tomorrow. The last chapter sucked so bad, I couldn’t even stomach reviewing it, but this one looks pretty fun.

 Anyway, happy fourth and may the force be with you always!

RejecTED, DefeaTED, EliminaTED

RejecTED

Between last Tuesday and today, Ted Cruz has gone from one epic electoral beat down to another.

Last week he came in a distant third place to John Kasich in four of the five primaries, only managing a close second in Pennsylvania. And “close second” I mean to Kasich’s third place not Donald Trumps first place.

After that disaster, Cruz tried to change the story and announced his decision to choose Carly Fiorina as his Vice President. It didn’t really work out and only seemed to gain bewildered looks.

Tonight’s loss in Indiana was the was apparently the last stop on the fail train that was Cruz’s campaign. So, shortly after Trump was declared the winner in Indiana, Cruz announced he was “suspending” his campaign. Of course all I can say is… good riddance… if we could only get him out of the Senate too.

Speaking of which, he did promise his audience that he was not suspending his “fight for liberty”, by which I took to mean that he intended to stay in the race for the Senate’s biggest jack ass… or lousiest clown jester.

So, tonight, I will drink to Cruz’s failure, and hopefully that his party continues in his footsteps. Sláinte!

What’s in a name?

 

Back in the day… or somewhere around 2000… I played an massively multiplayer online role playing game (or MMORPG for short) for the first time. The game was Everquest, and it was pretty damn amazing! Everquest had a large open world with tons of appropriate fantasy peoples — elves, dwarves and more, fantasy badies — orcs, undead, dragons, and all the necessary accouterments for us players to take on the badies — magic, enchanted weapons and armor. On top of all of this, the game allowed us to customize the appearance of our characters. Ok, it was really rather limited, but at the time it was really awesome. Finally Everquest allowed we the player to give our characters both a given name and a surname. All in all, it made Everquest a deep and personal experience.

Personally, I always agonize of any detail I’m allowed to customize in a game and the name I use. But, not everybody. Some people slam the random name button and pick the first thing it spits up. Some pick names of celebrities, or movie characters or worst of all vaguely covered canon characters to whatever game series they’re playing. Star Wars: The Old Republic has that problem. Some people only exercise creative in figuring out to use racial slurs or some other epithet through the game’s naming filter.

The most random name I remember seeing was back in the days of Wrath of the Lich King. The was the orc warlock who was named Blagojevich. Given the current events of the time, I assumed it was in reference to then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. There are two things to know about way Gov. Blagojevich was in the news… first he was under Federal investigation for various corruption related offense and at that time was under the subject of Federal wiretaps, something he knew. Second, when there is a vacancy in the US Senate, that state’s governor chooses the replacement. At the time, Illinois had just such a vacancy, the Senate seat of Barack Obama. Gov. Blagojevich had found an interesting way to fill Mr. Obama’s seat, he sold it to the highest bidder. No, really, he did. In FBI audio taps, he described the open seat as “fucking golden”.

As weird as that was, the other day I saw something worse. I had logged onto my Alliance death knight and headed off to Stormwind, there sitting AFK in Wizard’s Sanctum was, this:

theDonald

Yea, that’s right. A level 25 human mage, named Donaldtrump. I have no more words.

Election Blahs…

 

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Ok, it’s been a bit since the last post post.

Since the last time there have been a few primary contests and a few less Republican candidates… most notably one soon-to-be former Florida Senator. Honestly, I don’t think it was just the loss in his home state that took Marco Rubio out… as bad as that was. It was as that in addition to Florida, Rubio had gone like four straight contests without gaining a single delegate. That is not how to get a nomination.

Ok, on to more current news, Sen. Sanders has been on quite the run… he has won all but like one of last primary contests and that is no small feat. As I’ve noted before though, the delegate count is still against him as he is still about 250 delegates behind Sec. Clinton. What’s worse is that the upcoming contests are mostly closed primaries and so far contests like that have not been good to Sanders. In fact, he has only won a single closed primary.

I don’t think Sanders is going to be able to close the gap and I do think that Clinton will end up with the nomination.

As for the Republicans… what can I say? When your party is deciding between which of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is your preferred hate monger, I think you’ve lost all rights to be taken seriously.

Cruz for his part is an open theocrat and seems dedicated to those individuals (if not personally as well) that are attempting to codify an extremist interpretation of Christianity into American law. This is made even more ironic by the realization that these are often the same voices crying around about “creeping Sharia”.

And Trump… here is a guy that says anything, doesn’t matter how ill informed, ridiculous or even bigoted it is… if it pops into his mind, it will find its way out of his mouth too. God only knows if he even believes any of it. And given how quickly he switches his opinion, one could could be forgiven for thinking he doesn’t. But, his supporters seem to believe it and him… even when shown how ridiculous or two faced Trump is, they still support him. From that blind support to the verbal and physical abuse of dissenting voices, Trump’s supporters may actually be scarier than he is.

Listen, I try really hard not to throughout comparisons to the Nazis or Adolf Hitler (or any other mass murdering tyrants for that matter), doing so trivializes the horror that they inflicted on their victims and the world around them. But, when I see a candidate encouraging abuse or violence… even to the point of promising to pay the legal bills for his supporters that attack protesters, or when I see his staff verbally and physically assault journalists (and find support for it), or  when I see a candidate’s supporters threaten, harass and assault protesters, I can’t help but see shades of Hitler’s Brown Shirt thugs.

Because I no longer have the words to describe my horror at the creature known as Donald Trump, let me give some links to a few people that do:

Seriously… have something handy in case you need to wretch.  

The worse part is that I may own George Lucas an apology. See, like so many others… critics and fans alike, I’ve mocked the dialog Lucas wrote for Star Wars. Hell, both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher have also commented on the dialog, with Fisher asking “who the hell talks this way” in part of her interview for Empire of Dreams.

While she was referring to the dialog between Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin, my most loathed dialog comes from the prequels. In Revenge of the Sith there is a scene where the now Emperor Palpatine tells the Senate of his reorganization of the Republic into the Empire to much support and fanfare. In that scene, Senator Amidala has a line that says something like: “So this is how liberty dies… to thunderous applause”.

Dear Great Spaghetti God… that’s silly and pretentious. I can only assume that Natalie Portman also realized how bad this was, and performed the line with as much confidence in it as possible… that is to say none. She was a far better actress as a twelve year old playing a preteen orphan and contract killer fangirl in The Professional than anything this scene showed.

Still after hearing what Trump stands for and the cheers of his near sycophantic supporters, Lucas’ dialog may prove to be prophetic.

I wrote some very short comments on The Force Awakens, albeit rather late, a while back, so now that it’s on video, I have more detailed review coming. With that, I have some thoughts on the newest chapter for Knights of the Fallen Empire, the season finale of Star Wars: Rebels and the Rogue One teaser. So, yea, lots of Star Wars!

Also, there was a big video game freak out over a character in Blizzard’s soon to be released game, Overwatch. I have thoughts no that too… but later.

Beware the Ides of March

 

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The end of last week was a little on the eventful side. Donald Trump’s campaign rallies have become a free for all for which he has responded to with his usual bluster, blames and threats. At the same time John Kasich is surging in his home state while Marco Rubio is circling the drain in his. On the other side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have dropped much of their previous civility and are now bashing each other over the head with insults and attacks.

There is a lot to get to, so let’s get started.

The End Marco-bot Production?

In the play, when the old soothsayer woman warns Julius Caesar of his impending fate, he chose to ignore her and goes to his death, as he is unable to imagine her vision being true. Unlike Shakespeare’s Caesar, however, Marco Rubio must clearly see the fate of his political career coming. He is still in third place, behind Trump and Ted Cruz. His poor performance in last Thursday’s contests meant that gained no delegates at all. That’s right, zero, zilch, nada. And to make things worse, tonight’s primary in his home state of Florida will not likely go his way. The polls have shown him losing his home state of Florida for quite some time now and they aren’t getting any better, as a matter fact at the current moment Trump is averaging 43% and Rubio at 24%. As one could imagine, losing one’s home state is not good at anytime. It makes the campaign look weak and undesirable, even if that candidate is performing well elsewhere. Rubio, though, is a candidate that is circling the toilet. He desperately need both delegates and enthusiasm, he’s not going get either tonight. Hell, he won’t even get much of a consolation prize, as Florida’s Republican delegates are awarded in a winner take all fashion. At this point I don’t know whether Marco Rubio is a punchline or a punching bag, but we are seeing his campaign end the way that the short end of every dick-measuring contest ends. I suppose it’s appropriate considering he’s the one that started it last Thursday. The TLDR to Rubio’s presidential aspiration, there done and so is he.

Feeling Berned

Last Thursday, while talking about the primaries that were going to take place that night, I talked about the long distance that Senator Sanders still had to cover in order to get a nomination. I’m still concerned that many of his supporters don’t understand how much further he has to go, but do think it’s very clear that his people are far more excited for him than I have those in support of Secretary Clinton. For him, that’s a good thing to have.

Senator Sanders’ win in Michigan was a big one, not so much in terms of delegates, but in terms of momentum and excitement for his campaign. In tonight’s primary, Secretary Clinton is ahead of Sanders in most of the polling data in all four states (Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Illinois) that said, she was also projected to be ahead of Sanders in Michigan last week.

One thing that likely played a factor for Sanders’ victory in Michigan is that it is an open primary state.  An open primary means that people besides those who are registered with a specific party affiliation are allowed to vote in the primary. The opposite is a closed primary, where only those who are registered with the party holding the primary are allowed to vote. Sanders benefits greatly from independent and moderate support, many of those independents do not register as a party, preferring not to be tied to a party, just a candidate. This of course is a double-edged sword for Sanders tonight, as the state with the most delegates at play for the the Democratic candidates is Florida (214), and it is a closed primary state.

Oppositely, one thing that has played poorly for Sanders is that Democratic primaries are proportional, that means that the candidates are given a percentage of the delegates proportional to the percentage of the votes they gained with the winner getting a majority. In many of the states that Sanders has won, the outcome of the election was much closer than in states which Clinton won. The results is that Clinton walked away with a much larger percentage of the delegates available in those states than Sanders did in the states he won and her delegate lead continued to rise. Still if Sanders continues to when close enough races to game a fair amount of delegates, he can keep the distance between the two of them close  enough, he can stay in the running. This is especially obvious when you take the “super delegates” that are not bound to any candidate out of their totals.

Moving from tonight’s primaries to some of the arguments made between the two candidates. I think that one of the last Republican debates show the potential avenue for Sanders to attack Clinton. That is the  same attack Senator Cruz made against Donald Trump, that Trump gave sizable amounts of money to  Clinton for her senatorial run as well as her first presidential bid. Sanders should challenge her on how she can stand against Trump and oppose him after taking money from him.The most likely response is that Clinton will say her donations from Donald Trump or simply part of how one runs for office, that is, sometimes candidates take money from people they don’t personally approve of. This is

Also this week, Clinton gave one of just about the single worst attacks she could make on Sanders. At a campaign stop she went off about how Bernie support of healthcare is nice but that she didn’t know were he was in 1993 when Clinton was working to reform health care during her husband’s Administration. Well the internet detectives didn’t take long to find him, they dug up a video of an old press conference in which Clinton is discussing health care with Bernie Sanders standing right behind her on stage. Let that sink in she made an attack demanding to know where Sanders support of health care was all the while she had to have known that she had at least at one point shared a stage with him. Moreover, there is a thank you note written beneath a picture of the two of them together, it is from Clinton to Sanders thanking him for his support. Clinton’s team had been very good at researching their attacks for previous debates butts this was an unbelievably stupid and sloppy attack. It was easily debunked and made Clinton look ridiculous. Talk about amateur hour.

I’m not going to make any prediction for what happens tonight, rather I’ll be back later in the week with some thoughts on the fallout.

Lastly, there was a lot of bad news in the video world last week. The short version is that Microsoft canceled the latest installment of the Fable series and closed Lionhead Studios, Carbonite Studios, makers of the MMORPG, WildStar announced is was laying off a sizable amount of its staff and moving to China, and last but not least, Daybreak (formerly SOE) cancelled production of EverQuest Next.

In addition to the sympathy for the now former employees, concern for the futures of the remaining employees or the companies as a whole and commiseration with other fans of these products, there has been a lot of questions about the future of the MMO genre as a whole. I can’t tell you how many threads I’ve read asking if the genre was dying or even already dead. While I think that those concerns are more hyperbole than reality, I do think there are some issues surround this questions I’d like to explore in a future post.

Also, this post was to have a section talking about Donald Trump and personified disaster his campaign has become, but it was getting really long and I thought it might be better to make it a separate post as well. I kind of feel that Trump is like Beetlejuice, the more talk about him the more real he becomes, but at the same time, I can’t really not comment either.

So, stay tune for those future posts.

Disavowed

Disavowed

Yay for Zakuul… sometimes I wonder if the writers remember that there are other planets…

Chapter 11 of the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic goes live today, though anyone subscribed since the start of the month has had access since Tuesday. This chapter is titled Disavowed, and these are my thoughts on it.

For anyone not in the know, Star Wars: The Old Republic is a MMORPG set in the Star Wars “Legends” continuity, it takes place some 2,000 years prior to the events of the A New Hope. Knights of the Fallen Empire is its fifth expansion and came out in October of last year, that launch included the first nine chapters. In February Chapter 10, Firebrand, launched. So, it seems that the games maker, BioWare, is looking to launch a chapter per month. I have a review of chapter 10 and the expansion as a whole, linked here, and here respectively.

The Story and Some Spoilers

This chapter begins much the same as the last one, a conversation with Theron Shan. Apparently he has sent a small portion of the information your character gathered in the previous chapter to an old contact in the Republic government’s intelligence service and something useful has come of it. Namely, the Republic’s top special forces team, called Havoc Squad has taken leave of their official duties to wage an unsanctioned guerrilla war in the swamps of Zakuul. Theron thinks they may make for good allies and that you, as the leader of this rag tag group need to bring them into the fold.

So off to Zakuul you go, again. At some point you have to wonder how it is that you can keep sneaking onto this world and have Arcann not know it until you are gone. But, little details like that really aren’t a strong suit of Star Wars in general. So I guess I can forgive BioWare, since I can’t take them out behind the woodshed for something George Lucas has been getting pass for doing since 1977.

The fastest description of the chain of events that follows is that, after arriving on Zakuul with Theron, you meet up with Havoc Squad and its commanding officer, Major Aric Jorgan. That’s followed by a fight with Skytroopers and a pair of Zakuulan walkers, after which you head back to Jorgan’s camp with him. This sets up some conversation with Jorgan and some choices about helping or ignoring the plight of some civilians. If you help them, you find that they are exiles, send into the wilderness by Arcann for various acts of minor “disloyalty”. They blame you for their plight as Arcann has been using your actions against him as the excuse to heavily punish even the smallest challenges to his power.

After returning to Jorgan’s camp, he fills you in on his plans. They’ve found a communications relay station that is important and Jorgan wants to bug it, but getting through its security requires more firepower than he has. So, you arrange assault teams from your forces to thin out the resistance. With a plan now in place, you and Jorgan head off to the relay.

There’s a lot of fighting through skytroopers, Knights of Zakuul etc in this portion, followed by a puzzle in the form deactivating a force field that blocks a doorway. After all of this, the buging equipment is installed and a really big fight to get out the relay ensues, ending with a long encounter with a powerful droid.

The chapter ends in a long sequence of cut scenes that wrap up the remaining story. Jorgan joins you as a permanent companion and Havoc Squad joins your cause. Theron and this advanced artificial intelligence called SCORPIO inform you of a big find. Namely that the relay you bugged carries the coded signals that allow Arcann to control Zakuul’s Eternal Fleet. The Fleet is largely automated and commanded remotely. This discovery may pave the way to preventing Arcann from using the Fleet or even hijacking it from him.

My thoughts?

Well, like the previous chapter, and I assume, the chapters to come, BioWare is reintroducing the companions lost at the beginning of this expansion. Aric Jorgan in this case is the first companion that the Republic Trooper get during their original story. Personally I’m not a fan, Jorgan is presented as hard nosed, by the books career soldier with a highly black and white moral view. He feels like a character that has played out in dozens of war movies and gets old, fast. Further his strict worldview seems in conflict with the morally and legally ambiguous nature of special forces.

Jorgan is actually the fourth of the Trooper’s five original story companions to return in Knights of the Fallen Empire. The first is Tanno Vik (who isn’t recruitable), then Yuun and M1-4X. So, it’s disappointing that there is no mention of those others in any discussion with Jorgan. Sure, it’s not something that you might blurt out in the middle of a firefight, but it is something that should have been noted. Those that play Troopers have been further disappointed that there is little mention of their fifth companion, Elara Dorne. Who, is romanceable as a male trooper and can be made second in command of Havoc Squad, over Jorgan.

This is further disappointing light of BioWare’s insistence that this expansion was about getting back to the focus on storytelling that they have been known for in the past. Well, not so much. Rather it seems that the story is intentionally generic, made to fit all and devoid of any specifics that would make the experience memorable.

I understand that the story and character interaction have incompass a lot, after all the original game had eight classes with five companions each. So, whichever companion gets introduced is more likely to be recruited by a player character with no connection to that companion than the other way around. Still, some reference to previous history or relationships would be nice to see.

In a slightly better angle for the storytelling, the abuse of power is common theme throughout this chapter. Jorgan discusses how the Republic has fallen from it ideological high points under former Supreme Chancellor Saresh and her handpicked successor. As they have invoked special emergency powers and have become more of petty tyrants that the leaders of galactic scale representative democracy. Likewise Arcann’s tyranny and abuse of his own people is put on full display. For those playing dark side aligned characters or characters with an authoritarian streak, this could be a mirror in which they could see themselves. For those on the light side or fighting for the common good, it serves to remind the player why they are fighting.

On the gameplay, I did like the puzzle to deactivate the force field and the boss fight. It was a good one, hard enough to make me deploy defensive cooldowns and at least for a minute, worry about my survival. I’m not asking that every time I engage an enemy it come down to the wire, but occasionally having to use a cooldown or an interrupt or having to move out the “bad stuff” isn’t a bad thing. As such, this was a welcome change from some of the previous fights.

I did encounter one funny glitch on Tuesday night during my first play though. That being: in the cut scenes Aric Jorgan had no weapon… or cloths. Instead, I had a naked cat-like alien standing in front of me. Further, it did bug after the first fight and rather than Jorgan joining me, I was alone. That prevented me from starting a conversation with him later and therefore continuing in the story. This was no longer a problem when I retried the mission on Wednesday morning.

All in all, I feel the chapter was ok, but disappointing.

Two Last Things

More on Gaming –  Tuesday also brought the official release of Tom Clancy’s The Division. I’m going to wait to review until I have spent more time in game. I never feel that reviews of MMOs and similar games should be made without some serious playtime. But, so far I’m really impressed and having a lot of fun!

And more on the Primaries – We saw Bernie Sanders pull an upset victory in Michigan. This is a big deal. It shows that he has serious momentum and will be a good for fundraising. Still though, because of Clinton’s win in Mississippi, she ended the night with 18 more delegates than Sanders did. That said, something that The Young Turks did bring up that I agree with is that many of the news sights use the total delegate count for the candidates… that is they combine dedicated delegates and the unbound “super delegates”. The thing is that super delegates can choose which candidate they will support. When you look at only the bound delegates, Clinton and Sanders are much closer together. So, this race is far from over and will likely go down to the convention.