The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

The thing about Alaska

Funny thing is it’s real big, but national companies don’t always seem to grasp that. Like there’s this radio ad playing lately about a new Pier 1 that just opened in Fairbanks. Which is fine and all, except that Fairbanks is four hundred miles away. I do not recall hearing radio ads when I lived in Massachusetts about new stores that just opened in Pittsburgh.

December 13th, 2012 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

This just in: game journalism is still awful

Let’s say you’re not interested in my moral philosophising from the last post. What the hell, you say. You came here to read about how awful video game journalism is! Well, I have a deal for you on that front also. We all know that modern rock radio is the very very most awful radio format, right? It clearly is. Well, on the local modern rock station — which, regrettably, I often endure at work — they do video game "news" segments also, and they are as bad as you’d expect video game journalism on a modern rock radio station in Anchorage goddamn Alaska to be. But today they really one-upped themselves (get it? That was a video game joke): they no-fooling claimed that there are not, nor will there ever be, any shooters on the Wii U. Which is nonsense. I mean, obvious, provable nonsense. It’s one thing if you want to be like Gamespot and claim that nobody should buy the Wii U because obviously it’s for little girls and homogays, but it takes a special kind of stupid to claim that this list contains no shooters at all. I mean, for Pete’s sake, it has damn Mass Effect 3 and Black Ops 2 on it, right? And those are just about the biggest shooters that came out this whole year. And they’re officially 100% already out, so you can’t even cop out and claim that you figured they’d get canceled.

I mean, I often get accused of being a Nintendo partisan, and there is some (though only some) truth to this. Generally, I find Mario way more fun than some boring-ass multiplayer army shooter. That’s just me. But I do not believe it counts as me being partisan to say, you know, there might be a shooter or two on the Wii U. So, congratulations, radio station: you’ve managed to be worse than Gamespot and IGN.

December 11th, 2012 Posted by | Games | no comments

Violence in the workplace

A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers filed a complaint with the labor board against my employer. The exact details of the complaint I won’t go into here for reasons of privacy (I’m not precisely authorised to talk about it, you understand); suffice to say that there was a certain policy in my workplace that the employee in question did not like, and said employee — instead of talking to my employer about it, or perhaps — perish forbid! — getting a job someplace else that had more acceptable policies — petitioned the government to force the employer to change this policy. So there are a few things I’d like to say about this.

First off is the smug but correct observation that violence redounds upon the perpetrator; the overall effect as of this writing is that the old policy has been replaced with a new policy which is vastly more draconian and which the employees like much less, but which does not run afoul of the technical point of regulation that caused a problem with the old policy. So it’s the old story: prepare for unforeseen consequences and all that.

The more interesting point — and now that I’m done being smug, I’ll get to it — is that, yes, this most assuredly was an act of violence. To threaten somebody with harm unless that person complies with your wishes is called coercion, and it is violent, antisocial, and — dare I say it? — evil. It makes no difference if the weapon you threaten to harm your target with is a fist, or a knife, or a gun, or a government, the effect is the same: you have just imposed your will upon another person under duress. Consider now the original situation: your employer has a policy you don’t like. In fact, let’s role-play, since this is a nerdy web site and that; let’s assume that I offer you ten dollars to mow my lawn. In this context, I am now your employer, at least for the duration of and in the context of my lawn getting mowed. So far, so good, right? You mow my lawn, I give you a sawbuck, everybody’s happy. Now try this one. The next week, I offer you another ten dollars to mow my lawn again, only this time I tell you I don’t want you to mow within two feet of my apple tree. If you do mow closer to the tree than that, I won’t pay you a dime. Is this itself a violent infringement upon your person? Surely not. You’re free to walk away from this deal if you don’t like the terms, or to try to negotiate with me terms you find more acceptable. Now let’s say you do accept that deal, and then you discover after you’ve mowed the whole lawn that the unmowed circle around the tree is only eighteen inches wide — you’ve run afoul of that pesky policy of mine. So when I tell you I’m not going to pay, you put a gun to my head and tell me to fork over the ten bucks.

I think we’d all agree that this is a violent act. We engaged in a free exchange under terms we both freely accepted at the outset, but then you used the threat of bodily harm to compel me to accept different terms ex post facto. The dynamics of the situation do not change if the gun is in somebody else’s hand, either; if you have your brother come over and hold a gun to my head, you are still committing violence. If it’s your aunt Petunia, or your hired goon, or some guy off the street you offered to split the ten dollars with, it’s still the same. And it is the same if the gun belongs to somebody in a government suit. The only thing that changes is that you can skulk around in the shadows and not admit that you were the one who sought a violent solution to a peaceful disagreement. By which I mean: it’s easier if you’re a coward.

And don’t preach any nonsense at me about how the situation is any different if the government makes its onerous "regulations" in advance. It is not. First of all, unilateral decree is not generally considered a valid agreement. If I stand at the entrance to Best Buy and tell you that, if you buy a Wii U, I will punch you in the kidneys, and then I do it, am I absolved of responsibility because I told you in advance it was going to happen? Obviously not. Again, nothing changes just because the bully in question has a hat with "GUVVERMENT" written on. But even if that did change anything, it is also the case that the laws and regulations are literally impossible to know to their full extent, and, even if they could all be known, they are often contradictory and nearly always unclear; they can be interpreted to mean whatever their enforcers want them to mean at the moment of enforcement. Books have been written on this subject by more learned men than I, so, as my main man says, you don’t have to take my word for it. Government "regulation" is clearly not a freely-negotiated agreement, and there is no moral impetus to obey it (though there is the obvious practical impetus of not getting murdered to consider).

The really sad part about this whole affair is that, with only one exception — your humble narrator — every employee at my workplace hails this petty thug as a great hero for standing up to somebody who never did us any harm but unreasonably expected us to honour an agreement we freely entered into. Truly the indoctrination runs deep. Is this truly a model for reverence? Somebody who uses force to take what he wants from somebody else? I think we can set our sights a bit higher than this.

Actually, I lied. The really sad part is that the office chatter has now turned to the subject of getting compensation from our employer for all the times we obeyed this policy in the past. But don’t worry; I’m sure somebody will solve that problem soon enough, too. We just need to figure out whose gun to use this time.

December 11th, 2012 Posted by | Liberty | no comments

This happened

A conversation I swear I really had today at work:

Her: What kind of movies do you like?

Me: I really don’t.

Her: Oh. Well, there’s this kids’ movie out called Wreck-It Ralph–

Me: ! Wait! I’ve seen that! That’s the one movie I’ve seen.

I don’t know what she was actually getting at because I murdered the conversation.

December 10th, 2012 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

It’s the movies

It started a week or so ago, as the wife was carping at me about movies. "Darien," she sez, "why don’t you take some time off from your busy schedule of being an international hero and sex symbol and stare at movies with it instead?” So I explained to her again that movies just aren’t very interesting to me, and I’d prefer to spend my time on other pursuits, such as playing video games, making video games, swearing about video games, and saving your life in the future. "But," I fatefully intoned, "there is one movie I’m interested in."

So the next thing I know I’m being carted off through the gale-force winds of downtown Wasilla — which was used as the model for that Chrono Trigger level where you have to hide behind the trees or else the wind will murder you — to a damn movie theatre.

Now, I haven’t been to the movies since my honeymoon. In 2001. And that was a specalised old-tymey theatre; it’s been even longer since I’ve been to the normal movies. So I’m not equipped to say if this is an especially nice theatre or if they’ve just gotten better o’er these many years, but I actually didn’t hate the experience. See, the trouble is, I’m a mayor. As such, I have the typical mayor body type. Theatre seats — like airplane seats — are very much too narrow for my Bigfootesque shoulders, and tend to be very uncomfortable. The movie was pretty good, too; I saw Wreck-It Ralph, which, as a cartoon about video games, was right up my alley. Probably I’ll write more about it later; Amazon just pushed a Kindle Fire update that included this obnoxious Swype bullshit I can’t figure out how to get rid of, and typing has become a tremendous chore. Send help.

December 9th, 2012 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments