Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Weekly Roundup

News of the Geek

Good Internet Reads
  • Not a read, but this civil rights video shook me to the bone:
  • Raising Powerful Girls 
    • Powerful girls grow up feeling secure in themselves. They learn to take action, making positive choices about their own lives and doing positive things for others. They think critically about the world around them. They express their feelings and acknowledge the feelings and thoughts of others in caring ways. Powerful girls feel good about themselves and grow up with a "can-do" attitude. Of course, strong girls may (like all of us) have times of insecurity and self-doubt, but these feelings aren't paralyzing because the girls have learned to work through their problems. Powerful girls will grow up to lead full, valuable lives.
  • The Pill and Patriarchy
    • Until the condom, the diaphragm, the Pill, the IUD, and all the subsequent variants of hormonal fertility control came along, anatomy really was destiny — and all of the world’s societies were organized around that central fact. Women were born to bear children; they had no other life options. With a few rebellious or well-born exceptions (and a few outlier cultures that somehow found their way to a more equal footing), the vast majority of women who’ve ever lived on this planet were tied to home, dependent on men, and subject to all kinds of religious and cultural restrictions designed to guarantee that they bore the right kids to the right man at the right time — even if that meant effectively jailing them at home.
Neat Finds

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Never Forget. Never Again.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, calling for the internment of all Japanese-Americans in the United States. This is a little known, and even less talked about, period of our history. It was not only a shameful period of time, but the sweeping it under the rug makes it even more so. 

Today, on the 70th anniversary of the signing of the order, actor and activist George Takei has a special announcement:

70 years ago today, the President signed a decree that sent me and my family to a prison camp. Hear my story, and learn how you can help fulfill our pledge: Never Forget. Never Again.
As a child, George lived in two different internment camps in the United States. Please click the link, watch the video, and help spread the word. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

City of Heroes' Very Hetero Valentine's Day Event

One of my favorite things about doing this blog is seeing how people find this blog. Blogger has a great stats feature that lets me see referencing URLs as well as search strings. This week's search strings ranged from the bizarre (sexy zelda sex) to the eye rolling (getting to second base) to the "this is not the blog you're looking for" (gay for hot man sex). 

There was one search, however, that made me think and then made me feel guilty. It was "city of heroes valentines heteronormative." 

My first thought was "That would be a great post" followed closely by "Why haven't I made that post?" And the cold, dark truth is this - I didn't think about it. So thank you, anonymous Googler, for bringing that gross oversight to my attention. 

For all its faults, City of Heroes has never had a problem when it comes to how they treat their LGBT playerbase. In fact, they at one time had a gay community coordinator who made great strides in ensuring that the forum rules and regulations protected LGBT players from hate speech. There has never been a gay controversy in CoH the way there has been in some other MMOs.  

So for me, City of Heroes has never been on my radar about having LGBT issues (though they certainly have rampant misogyny problems), and I just didn't think about it. Mea Culpa. But the Spring Fling is, indeed, heteronormative and this year's event takes it to a whole new level.

I must warn you that the rest of the post has a lot of spoilers. Read at your own risk. 

In the past, the Spring Fling has consisted of four missions from two contacts - Ganymede (for heroes) and Scratch (for villains). They involved forced, cross-faction teaming in order to either save Aphrodite's girdle (yup, you read that right) or recover tainted water from the Well of Furies. There was also the repeatable mission from DJ Zero to take down a Red Cap named Snaptooth who is trying to destroy DJ Zero's interstellar portal. 

This year there is a new story arc, given out by Ms. Liberty (or Jessica Megan Duncan, as she's trying to be incognito by standing in Pocket D wearing the Liberty Belt and Excalibur) and Arbiter Hawk. I say it is one arc because even though one is supposedly for heroes and one supposedly for villains, they copy and pasted the entire dialog from one to the other. There is no discernible difference at all, save for a couple responses the player gives the contact, and Arbiter Hawk's total inability to explain the plot at all. Ms. Liberty goes into great detail about how Longbow psychics have divined what's going to happen, and Hawk just says "Yeah some people somewhere think it's a good idea. You in?" 

The plot involves the resurrection of Lord Recluse's former love, Red Widow. Yes, you, as a villain, are supposed to think this is a good idea just from Arbiter Hawk going "Yeah, it'll be gnarly dude. We'll, like, rise to power and shit." Oh, not his exact wording, but that sums up the amount of effort put into the villain side of the arc. 

So you go about doing this thing, that is in no way at all a bad idea, and then it predictably goes horribly wrong. You then have to steal Cupid's arrow and shoot Red Widow with it so she'll fall in love with Recluse again and not want to kill him

This is all true. I'll give you a moment to stop drooling on yourself before I continue with the stupid. 

At the end of the arc, during a cut scene, Recluse himself states that he knew all along about the Cupid's arrow spell. And at the end of the hero one, he says he'll need to thank Ms. Liberty for her help. And you never, ever confront her about it. Instead, Longbow Barbie is all "Golly gee that sucked! Better luck next time!" and continues to hang out in the intergalactic night club with her Peggy Hill feet. 

For your efforts, you get the Widow Maker badge, so you have that going for you.

The other new thing added is a new mission by DJ Zero. It is an epic set of FedEx missions where you go around in the world looking for lost Valentines which you then have the option of either delivering to the intended target or misdirecting to someone else in an attempt to make mischief. Seven correct deliveries gets you the Match Maker badge, and seven misdirects gets you the Missed Connection badge. 

So here's the thing - not one of these Valentines, nor any of the missions and mission arcs, indicates that anyone in the CoH universe is gay. The Valentines are full of a shocking amount of robot sex, but even those pairings fall within male/female pairings. For a company that has always been LGBT friendly, this is disappointing. And sad. 

This heteronormativity wasn't so obvious, at least to me, until this addition of the Valentine run. It got really frustrating after a while, and after I got the badges with my badge collector character, I stopped doing them. Yes, there were some surprises within the Valentines (finding out Mynx and Arbiter Sands are a thing for one, though I could have done without his super sexist commentary), but in the end everyone is heterosexual (or in Positron's case, asexual, as he rebuffed every Valentine I took to him; granted they were from robots and a giant Rikti monster, but still). 

Paragon Studios knows that there are LGBT folks who pay to play their game, and yet it doesn't even occur to them to have some LGBT content? That's baffling to me. I can only hope that next year they take the LGBT community into consideration and that some changes are made. 

Weekly Roundup

News of the Geek

Good Internet Reads
  • An excellent read on the bullshit social conditioning we teach little girls.
    • When the fuck was it decided that we should start teaching our daughters to accept being belittled, disrespected and abused as endearing treatment? And we have the audacity to wonder why women stay in abusive relationships? How did society become so oblivious to the fact that we were conditioning our daughters to endure abusive treatment, much less view it as romantic overtures? Is this where the phrase “hitting on girls” comes from? Well, here is a tip: Save the “it’s so cute when he gets hateful/physical with her because it means he loves her” asshattery for your own kids, not mine. While you’re at it, keep them away from my kids until you decide to teach them respect and boundaries.
  • YOU are beautiful. Period. Lately there have been a lot of stupid images going around Facebook and other social media outlets that feature really thin women and women who are more on the national average. They say things like "When did this (thin women) become hotter than this (average women)?" or "Bones are for the dog. Meat is for the man." Supposedly they're supposed to be empowering, but it's just trading one kind of misogyny for another.
    • But some women have skinny bodies. Some are curvy. Some are fat. Some are tall. Some are…all kinds of things in between. And when I hear women tear other women down because they happen to meet some conventional standard of beauty, I have to wonder…how is this better? We’re always crying “oh poor us, society has this unrealistic standard that we just can’t meet!” Then, we turn around and do it to each other all over again.
  • Not a read, but this is a great video of the best "I Love You" moments from Hollywood:
Neat Finds

Monday, February 13, 2012

Around the Net Today

Sometimes things come along that I just can't wait until Wednesday to share. That is especially true today. Here are three videos that caught my eye, made me laugh, made me think, etc. 

First is the trailer to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer. I have shied away from this book for a while now, but after seeing this video I'm convinced. I'll give it a read, and then see the movie.

Next, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin reads stories to children.

Lastly, this is a long, but worth it, video about the death of Superman. It contains swearing, so keep that in mind when you watch it at work, slacker. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Weekly Roundup

News of the Geek

Good Internet Reads
  • Gaming blogger Patricia Hernandez wrote a very interesting piece on religion and gaming.
    • Once it wasn't a matter of relating, I became obsessed with what, exactly, drew people to religion, what it took to create a captivating pull, or an interesting narrative that one might want to affiliate with. For my family, the draw was fear: fear of punishment from parents who forced the ideals on them, sure, but the bible itself seemed to prey on fear, too. All lessons seemed to be grounded in consequence: if you don't listen, God will flood the Earth, he will destroy your towns, he will take away your first-born, he will turn you into salt statues, you will go to hell. The bible even ends on a dour note—Revelations, or, a prophecy of the messed up things that will happen as most of humanity is damned and the select few that followed God's law receive the ultimate prize.
  • Rape victim gets a friend request from her rapist. This piece chilled me to the bone. It's astonishing how clueless rapists can be about rape.
    • So, what started as a brief email exchange quickly graduated to a phone call. After exchanging standard polite dialogue, Emily courageously approached the topic. Her rapist, while initially defensive, immediately starts providing specific details about Emily’s assault, validating her internal torment. Not surprisingly, however, the rapist himself never admits to his crime, instead taking the “I thought it was consensual” low road. There were two things that took my breath away in reading parts of their hour-long conversation. One was the absolute gall of this man, who tried to turn the tables on the whole ordeal and become Emily’s friend. But more than that was Emily’s absolute resolve and courage to ask impossibly difficult questions and hear devastatingly cruel answers.
Neat Finds
  • In honor of John Williams' birthday today, I give you this:
  • This is my new music obsession. I first heard it on Glee, but it was also apparently on a Super Bowl commercial. The Glee version is epic, as this is a song that just begs to be sung by a choir; the chorus is soaring, unrestrained, and emotional. I just love everything about it, and it makes me giddy happy every time I hear it.
  • And another thing that makes me giddy, this video is of a couple at the Mayo Clinic who put on a hell of a show. At the time of the video in 2008, they had been married 62 years. I think it's the wife's playful slap on the ass that does it for me. 
    • Two years later, they did a part two:
  • Those that follow me on G+ and Facebook saw these last night, but they bear repeating. I so need them for my Star Wars figure collection:
  • Batman and Robin don't see eye-to-eye on social networking

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Weekly Roundup

Yes dear readers, the Weekly Roundup is back. Look for it to return as a weekly feature starting...right now. 

News of the Geek

Good Internet Reads
  • There have been some great pieces over at Together, We're Better. Here are some highlights:
    • Jesse's guide to success for the chronic procrastinator:
      • I’m going to wake up, look at that list I just made, and say “You know cats (because talking out-loud to yourself is just weird), it’s New Years Day. I’ve been working really hard all week and I think I deserve to take a holiday. Besides, it makes more sense to start things on a Monday. First day of the week and all. So I’ll just spend today playing Skyrim and then I’ll be refreshed to tackle all those exciting new projects tomorrow.” I just told you that I’m going to say it. In fact, I wrote this whole article about it. But some variation of that thought will cross my mind tomorrow. Probably a couple dozen times. Because I’m a chronic procrastinator. I've never met a distraction that I didn’t like. For some reason, this is an extremely common trait among creative people. No matter how enthusiastic we are about our ideas, we can always find some excuse to postpone them. You probably know someone who procrastinates. We won’t name names.
    • Julian's piece on the lie that is perfectionism:
      • What has happened is that I’ve allowed my need to “do it right” to prevent me from doing anything at all. I’ve become paralyzed by perfectionism. Instead of doing something that doesn't quite fit the vision of the perfect outcome I’ve created in my head, I don’t do anything.
  • This isn't something to read, per se, but featured Jean Kilbourne's "Killing Us Softly" video, which thoroughly exposes the dangers of the images in media and advertising. This link only goes to the first part, but the rest of it can be found on YouTube:
Neat Finds