Free to Speak

Trigger Warnings – Some strong language/use of racial slur (No, I’m not being racist, I’m remarking on a racist attitude, don’t worry)

Hello readers. First off, I’m going to start with a little blog update for those of you not following me on Facebook (which you totally should do by the way, I’ll put the link at the end of the article) but basically to make this blog a little more engaging for my readers and a bit easier to follow, I might start doing themed days on here and on my Facebook page – Throwback Thursday immediately springs to mind to roll out classic gems, Totally Obscure Tuesday sounds like a fun way for me to blog about stuff I like whilst giving people a chance to give it a miss or expand their horizons but basically that’s all that comes to mind so far, too rigid a schedule limits the room for creativity and since I am not psychic, I can’t predict when blog worthy news will crop up and so if I dedicate every Friday to posts about films, I might miss my chance to write a topical post on something a bit more compelling. News for everyone though, as the year is almost out I plan to do 2014 in review, a brief look back at the biggest issues of the year and how this year went for me (Spoiler alert, kind of a weird year). With that out of the way, let’s move onto the topic for today shall we?

A bar owner made headlines in Australia today for displaying a sign saying ‘No Muslims’ outside of his bar, the chalkboard notice making a joke about how Jesus turned water into wine and how his bartenders have a similarly magical power, they turn money into beer (Contain your laughter, please, I know that’s true shining originality) but the sign ended with a little side note of ‘No Muslims’ and in the space of 24 hours, the bar received 200 complaints. Naturally, after such a prompt and aggressive backlash, the owner scrubbed the message from the board and had to make a public apology… or at least, he was supposed to.

‘While the great majority are in support of free speech and are of patriotic sentiment, we have fielded too many abusive and threatening calls. For this I apologise to my family. I sincerely hope I don’t end up sanitising my every thought to the robotic degree that is evident in commercial life around us. The story, if there is one, is in the reaction, not the action.’

Does that sound like an apology to you? Granted, he apologised to his family for making them deal with the backlash of his poor taste in humour but has he apologised to anyone offended by the joke? No. The mayor of the town, Longreach, in which the bar is established, seemed embarrassed by this man’s faux-pas and tried to stress that the town as a whole isn’t that ignorant, which is fair enough, it’s not fair to judge the town by one person. My issue is how the blame for this crass joke, in the owner’s mind, is the public, the people of Longreach are at fault for not finding his attempt at humour humorous and he’s more worried about political correctness than actually upsetting people – this is bad business and this is how to be a generally shitty person.

Firstly, let me explain once again that free speech does not mean say anything, suffer no consequences, such a system should not exist. Free speech is the right to speak and censorship is the act of subverting expression for the benefit of the common good, censorship is putting a black box over naked genitalia on TV before the watershed because it’s generally considered in everyone’s interests not to bombard children with images of penises, censorship is NOT telling someone to retract an offensive statement. Society is much more diverse than just white Christian people now so it’s hard to establish a core “This is the norm” group but us white folks, we have this tendency to think that’s still us and if we have to stop making jokes about Asians or Muslims or black people, we’re being forced into political correctness when actually what’s happening is someone is telling you to get your head out of your ass and think about someone who isn’t like you and how they might feel. A society based upon empathy would be fantastic but it’s still a long way off, ‘political correctness’ is just the effort to move closer to that form of society, instead of this common attitude of ‘Well I don’t see a problem here, it must be you’ that prevails amongst the ignorant.

As for patriotic sentiment, maybe he missed the news story that in the very same country as his bar, strangers rendezvoused with anonymous Muslim people to defend them on their commutes to and from wherever they needed to be, the patriotic sentiment of Australia aspires to be ‘All friends until proven otherwise’, not ‘We’re alright Jack, fuck you’. Of course, Australia still has the predominant male culture of cold beer, shirtless man mountains and barbecues of pure testosterone whilst women stand around in skimpy bikinis but this is a stereotype, it’s not the defining trait and even so, these stereotypical views of Australians are never portrayed as hateful and as the news recently proved, provided with a choice of retaliation or benevolence, Sydney chose the latter, Australia is trying to be the country that says ‘Maybe if we stopped treating strangers like terrorists, we’d have a better time of it?’ and that worked, it was beautiful, we were all struck with awe. So what patriotic sentiment is there in belittling a religion? Patriotism is a love of your country, if you hate change and see your country as superior, that’s beyond patriotism, that’s jingoism. Root for the home team, sure, but if you go to away games just to start riots and you beat the snot out of visitors to your stadium, do the world a favour and stop turning up at the stadium, go back to your cave, troll.

I know it’s not easy, responsibility never is but you can’t say your right to free speech is being taken from you if when you say something, it has negative consequences, the right to free speech is the right to speak, everything comes at a price. The right to bear arms is a huge thing for America but guess what? If you shoot someone, you still have to explain yourself as to why you shot them and if you respond with “It’s my right to have a gun”, they’ll respond “And if you use that gun to bring harm to others, naturally, legal consequences must follow”. Basically it boils down to having to think before you speak and this seems to be massively troublesome to a lot of us – Thinking? We didn’t do that back in the olden days, I could call a black man a gollywog with no qualms back in my day, why has it changed? It changed. Adjust. Try to see the world through the eyes of another once in a while.

Hello again readers, I hope you enjoyed that article. As always, please like, comment and share. If you want, you can now follow me on Facebook, the link will be down below for you – tell me what you think of what I post, what you want to see and do you think themed days would be a good idea for the blog? I do so love good feedback but I find I get very little of it so constructive comments are appreciated!

http://www.facebook.com/oldmanwolfeofficial

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This Isn’t A Game Guys! (And That’s The Problem)

Fifty posts! Hooray, have cake on me everyone! Only joking, all the cake is for me. Only joking again, there is no cake, the cake is a lie. Aha, got you with that old gem didn’t I? Yes, I did plan on hanging myself, how did you know? Erhem, terrible jokes aside, this is my fiftieth post, felt it was a better number to end the written works on than forty-nine. So what will it be about, you ask? Love? Politics? Religion? Hoho no, let’s end this chapter in the saga of rant on the same wavelength it started on – me getting all hoity toity about a small issue with comical effects.

My topic for discussion is the games industry and mainly, my distaste for it as of late. Are you old enough to remember the days when consoles competed for the market by making better games than each other? Sure, there were adverts that openly mocked Sonic or Mario as being stupid characters and so lame compared to other console mascots, but on the whole if a company wanted to win the race for children’s love at Christmas, it was by announcing a smorgasbord of interesting titles for the kiddies. Hey kids, forget the Dreamcast, get the PlayStation – we’ve got Rayman and Crash Bandicoot and racing games and so much more – and sure enough kids did just that. Truth be told, your parents only ever got you one console usually and thus you had to develop brand loyalty for fear of admitting you asked for the wrong gift at Christmas but my point stands, the consoles used to put a lot more effort into being worth the price tag than they do now.

Now you could say part of the problem is there’s no originality any more, that these big brands have had to duke it out for years on end and are just low on ideas so they make sequels to fan favourites and churn them out ad nauseum but I think there is a lot more to it than that, I think a big issue is game companies aren’t run by gamers, usually anyway. The CEOs of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo aren’t avid game fans or game designers but they get the final word in our gaming experiences and this is like hiring the blind guy to do your interior decorating on the basis of “Well, he has the paint and the brushes so we figured he’d be best suited to the job”. If you don’t believe me, have you noticed how most AAA games are sequels or reboots? The sales figures show they sell and so that’s what they go by, never venturing into unknown territory. I’m not saying these guys are idiots, I’m sure every one of us reckons they could improve on a bad game but not all of us actually know enough about game design to do that effectively and neither do these guys, that’s where the problem comes in. The executive level gets to decide important issues like game length, amount of DLC available, linear or non-linear storyline – they control the creative process and you know what they say about camels and horses (A camel is a horse designed by committee)

My second issue with modern gaming is the money pumped into the industry, a ridiculous amount that really isn’t needed at all. A study carried out four years ago showed games across platforms cost $28 million to make, that’s around £17 million, and that number has gone up and up each year. Console exclusives start at around £8 million. Why? Why do we need that kind of budget? Brilliant games exist that were made by four blokes in a basement! Sadly, perhaps that’s part of the problem but the budget is to cover the massive teams and years of development across the nation to bring out show-stoppers and games like Call of Duty and such are made so damn flashy and so frequently because it’s the industry saying “We need money! We need help! We’re victims of our own success!”. If the entire world switched off long running franchises like Halo or Call of Duty, corporations would crash and burn. A single failed game in this modern age can kill a company dead, possibly even a console. Nintendo is falling into the nether-realm of the digital world because it can’t hold up against it’s competitors, which brings me to my next issue, the narrow market.

Let’s review the choices of the modern gamer shall we? You have three big brands, one that’s limping on a crutch called Smash Brawl and failing, one that speaks of being “For the players!” but is really a gimmicky box of shite and one that lights up as it empties your wallet. Your other choices are a gaming PC to join the elitist super gamers or independant company consoles that are so beyond the mainstream you have to trawl through the internet to find out why you should buy one of them instead of a PS4. The big brands are atrocious money fiends that spend their time pissing each other off whilst flashing their fancy little tricks at you. Did you hear Microsoft will give you $100 store credit if you give them a PS3 so they can smash it up and dance on the remains? Sony’s response? “Save $100 by NOT doing what Microsoft told you, they’re all wankers anyway!”. Fucking grow up, your stupid rivalry creates stupid gamers. I hate talking to people about consoles, they’re so fucking loyal to the one they own that it’s obnoxious. Bitch, the only reason I’m a Playstation player is for Dynasty Warriors and JRPGs, I prefer Japanese games, they’re just more fun but they’re not available on XBOX because there are no avid-Microsoft fans in Japan really. Nintendo kept their head out of the bickering this time around but they’re struggling because by doing so, they’re not in the race and they’ve fallen off the radar despite pumping out all sorts of new games and consoles. Nintendo will bounce back, they always do – something about their characters makes the company immortal no matter how bad the struggle. The Gamecube lost to the PlayStation and XBOX, didn’t stop the Wii coming out. Game companies are becoming cruel and vindictive on the whole though and deliberately screwing their fans over to beat cash out of them. Take backwards compatibility on the PS4, it requires a fee for each game! Why not just keep my PS3? I’ve seen nothing on the PS4 that has convinced me “Oh, that’s a game that would have been impossible to make on the PS3, it is so new and intuitive!”. Again, another point – name me one new game that a smart game designer could not have made for the PS3/XBOX 360 that they did make for the new gen consoles. Nothing? I thought not.

I guess a big issue is by the time the new consoles do have genuinely exciting new releases that masterfully use the new software and hardware to create a unique experience, you’ll be holding onto your money for the PS5 or Xbox 3000 or Wii Z or whatever. The game industry shifts and changes too fast for the developers and it stresses them out which is a big problem, as I found out through a little read around. The burnout rate in game design careers is incredulous, as the designers reach the ‘settling down’ age they seek jobs with regular hours during daylight hours with good job security and a pleasant environment. Guess what? That’s not game design. Ergo, the technical sorts migrate into jobs to do with website maintenance and data handling and the designers move into advertising and graphics and so on. The people that can’t change careers however, are those with specialised skill sets, those that have devoted their lives to being the best damn 3D modelling artist ever – what else can you do? CGI film? Yeah, good luck getting that interview. The end result is a jarring mismatch of ability in the workplace, masterful artists and a high level of rank amateurs in the programming area with a handful of veterans watching them work. Chances are that glitch that made you walk through the floor or your head float away was an error made by a newbie that his boss was too damn tired to correct.

I guess I’m scared in a way, I grew up alongside the consoles and now I watch words flash up like “Microtransactions” and “Always online!” and it turns me away from the whole medium. Games are escapism in a way that films and books aren’t, it’s an interactive retreat from reality. You don’t watch a film and feel as if you’re Iron Man or Dumbledore, you just watch a selection of characters you like do stuff and smile and clap and eat popcorn. Games are different, you become the protagonist, especially in games like Fallout or Skyrim where the world revolves around you. In this world, you’re anything from a werewolf that can command the elements whilst riding into battle dressed in the robes of your great warrior grandfather to the survivor of an apocalyptic war looking to survive the chaos and carnage of the new world. Sadly however, the higher ups know how partial we are to this world and they follow us into it, picking our pockets and teasing us with more battles to win or princesses to save, and we give in and thus the childhood innocence of the land of heroes becomes a cash cow that insists it’s your noble steed into battle. It just isn’t guys, it just isn’t.

Perhaps the ultimate solution is to just stop, let it die and enjoy what we have and leave the industry to pick up the pieces and realise the truth of what it has become… Somehow, I don’t see that happening though

PS – For further reading, here is one of the many articles that inspired this post -http://www.cracked.com/article_20727_5-reasons-video-game-industry-about-to-crash.html

ConDem

Greetings everybody, you’re probably still waiting on the video eh? Well, the whiteboard is in the post so once it arrives, I’ll crack on. I feel I should warn you in advance this is not a funny rant but a serious one, tackling an issue close to my own heart that upon learning of it, made me truly lose what little faith I had in the government of my collapsing country.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you followed the news? Even if you had, the newspapers have covered it over with the intention of keeping you calm whilst robbing you blind because as of 1st April 2013, David Cameron will make fools of us all and the ConDem (Conservative/Liberal Democrat government… also a pun) government will enforce such tight-arsed changes to the welfare state that the public of Britain will be £18bn worse off. Historians, remember this day as the day David Cameron let the world know he is truly a twat. I think back to 2009, where Cameron spoke at length of inequality in society being the bane of us all and now we see the truth in those words, but not in the way we hoped. As Cameron came to power and blamed the failings of our nation on everyone else bar himself, anyone who watched his speeches on their cheap little television in their shitty little flat were left scared and angry. The welfare state is a lifeline, but also a trap that binds those without enough financial security to cope without it and though we’d all like to live our lives without claiming benefits and still being fine for it, cuts across the board shake our faith in our money and our government. As the economist JK Galbraith observed: “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

So where is the public outcry? Who fights the fight for the damned? Well, I’ll give the church their dues, they’ve picked up the baton but do you want to know the dark truth in this war on inequality? People weren’t told it was happening until it was too late. The Times, The Telegraph, The Sun and The Mirror are all considered the newspapers read by the common man and not one of them told their readers the plain and simple truth that the government was making cuts to their benefits. The voices of the broken are weak, they are too ill, too poor or just not smart enough to take the fight to Cameron and tell him he’s wrong. I shiver at the thought that this once proud nation, and we were once, is run by a man so out of touch with reality, he believes £65 a week can support the average family with money to spare. A man so monumentally thick, he believes the problem with this country is an excess number of jobless youths and disabled people? Cameron, do you plan to fix this nation by killing half of it off with starvation and poverty? I am afraid to say, dear reader, you will live to see the division between classes in Britain widen to almost unbelievable levels, and will look on at the chaos of this world with either a hand full of cash, or a hand full of dirt (If you are not currently reading this with at least £50 cash in hand, expect the latter)

You can run and hide from the truth, whether you’re affected or not, but the truth is the truth and if reality is a harsh bitch, expect to be whipped if you are not the one with the whip in hand right now. I’d like to believe in equal opportunities for everyone in this country, but that’s a fairy tale now and will be until I die unless we somehow discover the world’s first 100% plainly honest politician and make them Prime Minister. I’m not surprised crime rates are increasing, and that people are looking at extreme points of view such as National Socialism as more and more reasonable. The people at risk are the ones we leave with no means to defend themselves so what do they do? People get angry. People get confused. People get hurt. People steal. People cheat. People starve. People die. All the while, however, our lords and masters watch from above in total amazement at how people can be so stupid. I seriously think the likes of Cameron ask questions like ‘Why don’t they just buy more money? Honestly, if these people sold their summer houses, they’d be fine. You could always buy another one two years down the line, just sell it for now’

I’m not done yet, oh good god no. Disability Living Allowance will become PIP, removing 500,000 people from the list of the eligible in one fucking go. Job Centre Staff admitted to The Guardian that they are ‘trained to find any sanction to not pay out’ and this includes scouring through forms for even the tiniest of errors, calling it a benefit fraud attempt and throwing the book at poor Jim Worthnought so hard you can read the terms and conditions off the back of his head. You deserve to claim benefits just by getting through the process of claiming them – a digital nightmare combined with forms heavier than a people carrier and all you can expect to help you do it is a ballpoint pen. If you’re semi-literate, you should probably choose a bench now. In a worst case scenario, crisis loans no longer cover transport and food, just food, and the Trussell Trust Food Bank is expecting a surge so out of hand, they’re begging for donations like we will all be doing soon enough… unless you’ve got a cosy seat in the middle class, in which case, I resent you.

I’m sorry, but there is more… A final blow, the last nail in the coffin of the underclass. Legal aid has been removed for anyone appealing for benefits and so now, if you’re refused and don’t think that’s fair, hire your own attorney or go home… or you can be your own attorney and get laughed at because you don’t know about Root Clause 0HWLL-FCKUM8Y – “Anyone who needs to claim money off the state is obviously a tool”. The CAB’s budget is set to go down from £22m to £3m. Let that sink in. Got it? Scream. Loudly. In Cameron’s face. As you beat him with a shovel. Please.

If you’re not affected and this still shocks you, don’t feel too bad – you were kept in the dark by those you trusted to tell you the truth. The media isn’t lying per se, it just didn’t say anything in the first place. Your beloved newspaper waited for you to fall in the water and crawl back out with your legs missing before shouting at you for swimming with sharks, and then tried to justify itself in it’s failings by shouting at the shark for a bit, calling it a mean shark.

I leave you with this thought – In a country where governments fear their people, you have benevolence. In a country where people fear their governments, you have tyranny.