November 2004


Don’t panic, I’m sure I’ll go off on a tear about Ohio or something shortly.

Picked up LotR: Third Age for the XBox yesterday. Penny Arcade is, as usual, dead on. Here’s my take from a q23 thread:

It’s very mindless and not very challenging, however it is fun (in a mindless not very challenging sort of way). It is kind of like “Lord of the Rings: The Second Stringers” though (Look! A generic human, a generic elf and a generic dwarf!).

If a pretty hack and slash appeals to you, I’d recommend renting it for a weekend. The difficulty does ramp up pretty rapidly as Moria ends, and that will probably surprise most players (snooze hit style hit style hit style win wait a minute, that’s a balrog and he has 80K hit points and is one hit killing me, I’d better wake up)

The box itself has “Just like Final Fantasy X!” on it, which is where the FFX comparisons are coming from. The similarities are: (a) the minimap, and (b) the combat system is a “homage” (you have 3 guys at once and can hotswap from your party and it’s turn-based). I’ve noticed a distinct lack of androgynous platinum-haired villains (unless you count Christopher Lee) so it’s really nothing like the Final Fantasy series.

(Added on Monday: The stupidest ending in a game EVER! Well, since you killed Rob Zombie in Return to Castle Wolfenstein. See the comments for spoilers. Oh, and I have some comments on the current mmo-blogosphere discussion about content driving design or vice versa… see Jeff Freeman and Damion Schubert’s blogs in the links over there —> and when I get off work and can type for more than 5 minutes, I’ll EXPOUND, baby. Yeah.)


In further electoral news, we may never have seen the conclusion to “A Song of Ice and Fire” if Kerry won.

This is one of the more visible manifestations of something I’ve noticed all over the web this past week. Basically, it’s a rejection of, well, the US. “If the country really voted this way, it makes me sick.” “I can’t live here any more. I’m leaving.” “You know what? Screw all of you. I hate you all. Die.”

We didn’t see this in 2000. Maybe it’s because the election was prolonged, delayed, and finally decided with a coin flip. The left could deny Bush legitimacy on fairly solid grounds. He lost the popular vote, he (very) arguably may have lost the electoral vote due to shenanigans.

But this time, Bush got more votes. Not MANY more – the country is still cleft in two – but he won. And to many, this means the majority of people are wrong. Not disagreed with. Not seeing issues differently. WRONG. Idiots. Rednecks. Religious zealots. All sorts of other pejorative terms being flung about with reckless abandonment. The same sort of terms we saw from the far right 6 years ago, when the roles were reversed.

You know what? I disagree with MOST people politically. But that doesn’t make them wrong. It doesn’t make their vote meaningless. It means that what I believe to be the best way to do things, others aren’t yet convinced of. YET.

It’s an attitude BOTH sides of the spectrum would do well to consider, unless they want every election to devolve into referenda of who lives in the country and who doesn’t believe in God. And if that’s the case, well, heck, let’s just have Civil War 2 and get it over with, because talking to people you disagree with is apparently really HARD.

“Don’t mourn, organize.” — Mother Jones


Just in case you thought it was Nader screwing up everyone’s mojo, or believed Badnarik’s press release that he actually won, here’s the final results (pending absentees and, well, Ohio)

George W. Bush (Republican) 58,978,616 51%

John F. Kerry (Democrat) 55,384,497 48%

Ralph Nader (His Own Bad Self)\tab 394,578

Michael Badnarik (Libertarian)\tab 377,940

Michael A. Peroutka (Constitution)\tab 129,842

David Cobb (Green)\tab 105,525

Leonard Peltier (Peace and Freedom Party) 21,616
(Peltier isn’t the first federal prisoner to run from a cell – Eugene Debs ran as a Socialist many times from jail and did rather well.)

Walter F. Brown (Socialist)\tab 10,258

James Harris (Socialist Workers Party)\tab 6,699
Roger Calero (Socialist Workers Party)\tab 5,274
(Note that Harris wasn’t actually running this year. However he polled more because most states wouldn’t list the SWP’s ACTUAL candidate, Mr. Calero being unable to actually serve if elected, being foreign born. Splittists.)

None of These Candidates 3,646
(Nevada lets you vote for None of the above).

Thomas J. Harens (Christian Freedom Party/MN) 2,395

Bill Van Auken \tab (Socialist Equality Party) 2,078

Gene Amondson (Prohibition) 1,896

John Parker (Liberty Union/VT) 1,159

Charles Jay (Personal Choice)\tab 867
(His running mate was Marilyn Chambers. Yes, that Marilyn Chambers. I’m not sure if she KNEW she was running for VP, mind you.)

Stanford “Andy” E. Andress 720
(No one knows anything about this guy. No, really. Go Andy!)

Earl F. Dodge (Prohibition) 122
(Apparently, there are either 2 Prohibition parties, or they got drunk and nominated 2 guys.)

Most links from either Google or here:


OK, here’s the Democrats’ road map for the next 8-12 years, if they want to be a majority party again.

First stage: Guerilla Warfare – be VERY LOUD. Bush will nominate 1, possibly more, supreme court justices. Even though the Democrats cannot stop them easily if the Republicans maintain party discipline, they CAN make them test cases for guerilla legislative action. Fillibusters. Pressure on wavering/vulnerable moderate Republicans. Public exposure. Theatrics. If they can derail Bush’s nominee (and based on history, this is doable, because Bush’s people will be arrogant enough to nominate Alan Keyes or something) then they score a huge, huge moral victory. Whoever organizes this can then continue the rebuilding process.

Second stage: It’s the Message, Stupid – To move beyond loud theatrics, the Democrats have to have issues and platforms that appeal beyond their own base. This means issues beyond the hot buttons. No more relying on scaring people about abortion. No more getting out the gay vote via gay marraige referenda. No more appealing to black feelings of disenfrachisement. These things all work for getting 49% of the vote. It’s not enough. In 1994 the Republicans, after being soundly thrashed by Bill Clinton’s resurgent neoDemocrat majority, put together a “Contract for America”, with things that appealed to more than just Republicans, such as welfare reform and balanced budgets. It worked so well that the Clinton administration, which until that point was working actively towards New Deal-esque measures like universal health care, was paralyzed until they finally surrendered and co-opted it completely. The Democrats have to find the ideas that appeal beyond the 49% base.

Third stage: Uniting the country. The Democrats have to find a figure that can move beyond the politics of the Clinton and Bush era. When they find a leader that will tell the insta-pollers and the rapid response teams to go find honest work and is willing to appeal to the American people on the basis of their own ideas, the Democrats will win a solid majority of the electorate. Which is why the prior stage is so important – the party itself has to be ready for this as well or that leader will never survive the nomination process. See: Howard Dean.

This is how the Democrats can turn it around. Will it happen? History shows that it will require a shock to the system that will cause the current generation of leadership to be, well, fired. We’re not there yet. Terry McAuliffe is still going to run the DNC. Hillary Clinton is still probably going to be the 2008 nominee. There needs to be more blood before the next generation can, in true Klingon style, kill their superiors and take command.

Or the Republicans can do the same thing. Except that at the moment they’re not motivated to. By playing to THEIR base, they get 51%. 51% sucks for getting a decent night’s sleep on Election Day – but it wins at the end of the week. It’s done it twice now. The Democrats, now, are the best hope to break this deadlock. And for the good of the country, it must be broken.


“There are three basic good practices for an election: a national system of voting, clear rules that are decided in advance, and an honest broker to decide disputes,” said Therese Pearce Laanela, senior program officer at IDEA, who has advised governments in 14 nations on how to set up an electoral system. “Botswana follows them. What’s so surprising is that the U.S. still doesn’t.”

Regardless of which legal team carries the day, I think everyone can agree: the electoral system is broken.

The parties have polarized to the point where the members of either deny the others legitimacy. “How can normal people vote for the other guy?” Neither Bush nor Kerry were able to deliver a clear mandate in the classic term – a platform and a candidacy that reached out beyond the stalwarts of either fringe to make a case to change anyone’s mind.

Sadly, I could have written this post three days ago. So we don’t actually need elections any more. Good thing, because apparently they don’t work. Whee!


In a further attempt to keep all the electoral foolishness somewhere else here’s what you can do when not watching the news pundits figure out that once again, it’s a tie vote. Because in the gaming industry, we believe in saving the best for last (or, in this case, November).

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: I’m still not very far along on this one, but it’s, well, really, really wrong, and that’s gotta be right. I mean, I’m executing gangster drivebys in East LA while Willie Nelson is crooning “Crazy” on the tape deck. Tell me that this is a bad thing.

Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed: I am a TIE fighter whore. No, really. Ask an ex-roommate whose PC and copy of the original PC TIE fighter game I hogged for months in lieu of things like finding gainful employment. This expansion, if it does nothing at all else, lets me suit up in a black stormtrooper flight suit and vaporize pirate Z95s over Tattooine’s friendly skies. Maybe at some point I’ll do something else MMOy like, joining a guild or maybe even a group briefly. But for now, it’s all about my level 3 disruptors, baby.

Rome: Total War: Strength, honor and the burning of all who oppose us to the ground! Dawn of War has better multiplayer (which I haven’t touched in weeks thanks to, well, this list) but R:TW is the best strategy game of this year. Now if only Creative Assembly would fix the last few late-game bugs, this would be golden.

DAOC: Catacombs beta: Since I actually (a) work here and (b) NDA is in full effect still, let me just tell you one thing: Lurikeen vampiirs. Thank you, drive safely.

And then next month, we have World of Warcraft and Half Life 2. Social life? Parties? An otaku craves not these things!