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Progressive Games: Guild Wars Franchise


55621fb3-9810-48f1-bf9a-e2940899264aThere’s often talk about games that need to be all inclusive, progressive, and forward thinking, even if the genre happens to be high or epic fantasy.  Often we think of single player games that way, because in single player games we pay more attention to the story than we do in an MMO.  But in this case, I’m looking at the Guild Wars franchise.

When Guild Wars was launched, it started with Prophecies, and the story of a group of humans from a nation called Ascalon.  They were under attack by a war like species called the Charr.  Now, because we were playing humans, we didn’t really know about the entire history of the conflict.  Just the human side.

But as the story progressed, we encountered many people and heroes throughout Ascalon, Kryta and into the Maguuma Jungle.  It was all very Euro-centric when it started.

710px-Monastery_1Then, in Early 2006, ArenaNet released an expansion.  The first paid expansion of the franchise.  Called Factions, the players were no longer in the familiar setting of Kryta or Ascalon, but in the nation of Cantha.  The conflict with the Charr was very far away.

Cantha had very Eastern Asian aspects to it.  A mix of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Tibetan.  But it really wasn’t any different that other games that had come out before, as many aspects of Far East Asian folklore had been used as a building block for video games.  The big change came in late 2006.

ArenaNet released Nightfall, the second expansion of the GW franchise.  Like Factions, Nightfall was a standalone release, but it had something very different.

guildwars2_largeNightfall took place in Elona.  Which had very distinct African features.  Drawing from Egyptian, Yoruba, and even Zulu folklore and myths, Elona was very different than any video game seen previously.  It is incredibly rare when an African setting is the backdrop, but ArenaNet did it, and they managed to create a wonderful story complete with interesting heroes and complex villains.

In mid 2007, Eye of the North was released.  It would eventually become the last expansion in the Guild Wars franchise before the release of Guild Wars 2.  Originally, there was a different idea for Eye of the North, and there were many who believed that there was something pointing to a Meso-American backdrop.  Instead, we learned that there are other species on Tyria aside from Humans, Dwarves, Tengu, and Charr.  We are introduced to the Asura and to the Norn.

The Asura are small, but highly intelligent species.  The Norn are massive, hunter like species that take a great deal of their story from First Nations myths and folklore and Scandinavian myth and folklore.

jZ9VIpfThe progressive attitudes of the franchise sort of slowed, almost to a halt until Guild Wars 2 was released, and we came to the living story.  That is where we were introduced to Kasmeer and Marjory.  At first, one can just assume that they are a pair of humans in a Guild that was dubbed Destiny’s Edge 2.0.  There was Rox, a Charr ranger who had no warband, Braham Eirsson, and Taimi, an incredibly intelligent Asura progeny (a child) who is a student of the College of Synergetics.

Taimi is stricken with a degenerative disease that does not allow her to walk around as fast as others would.  But she doesn’t let that stop her, as she has her Golem Scruffy to assist her, and her incredible thirst for knowledge that pushes her forward.  Many times this is at the chagrin of Braham, who has taken to caring for the small Asura.

GW2-5Toward the end of the Scarlet Briar story we find out for certain that Kasmeer and Marjory aren’t just good friends, they are in fact a couple.  There had been hints that the two had a relationship, but this comes to the fore in the final battle with Scarlet.  As Marjory and Braham are both injured in the final assault, Kasmeer and the player attack Scarlet, while Rox stays behind to ensure Braham and Marjory are protected.  Once Scarlet is defeated, Kasmeer rushes to Marjorie’s side, and end holds her in an embrace, giving her a deep kiss.

This produced a metric shit tonne of fan art.  Seriously, fans got really happy with this.

gw2_sya-600x546During the assault on Lion’s Arch, we also meet an Order of Whispers agent named Symon, he wears a hood and mask and has the distinctive Whispers light armour, who assists with the evacuation of the citizens of Lion’s Arch.  Later, when Lion’s Arch is rebuilt, the player can meet and talk to a woman called Sya.  In the conversation with her, she reveals “I’m Sya. Back then I was known as Symon.”  She goes on to say “Scarlet destroyed so much in the blink of an eye. It reminded me how short life is and how we should spend every moment embracing who we are.”  Sya is a mesmer, and as a master of Illusions, she is able to make her outward appearance look the way in which she feels inside.

sylvari-group2Even the Sylvari of Guild Wars 2, one of the five playable races, have a gender fluid feel to them.  They are a plant based species, and while they do have male and female appearances, many players have used this as a way to create a masculine looking female or even a feminine looking male.  The Sylvari even view love and relationships differently, as they do not have the boundaries commonly associated with such things.  While same sex relationships in the world of Tyria aren’t frowned upon, the Sylvari are much more free to take up such relationships.  This may be because Sylvari find a bond with each other that is closer than any of the other five species.

As the player roams the world and learns of the dangers in Tyria, they discover a great number of things that the rest of the populace looks down on.  The Sons of Svanir and even the Flame Legion are two antagonistic factions that feel females are not worthy as warriors and that their only place is tending to the needs of the males.  With the Sons, this stems from the lore that when Jora and Svanir first found the great dragon Jormag, Svanir accepted the gift of corrupted power while Jora rejected it.  For the Sons, this meant Jormag’s power was not meant for them, and if a female Norn is corrupted with the dragon’s influence they will kill her.  Jormag, for his part, doesn’t really care.

With the Flame Legion, they are a legion of Charr who at one time held an oppressive hand above all other legions.  The Flame Legion lead the attack on Ascalon.  But they also felt that female Charr were not worthy as warriors and demanded all females step down from their place in the military and take up a more domesticated role.  This was later reversed as the other Legions pushed back and eventually defeated the Flame Legion.  An impressive event came several decades after the events in Eye of the North, when Kalla Scorchrazor, a female Charr of the Blood Legion, secretly trained other females and lead a revolt against the Flame Legion.  She forced the shamans to surrender, but paid for it with her life as a shaman stabbed her with a poisoned dagger.  Presently in Guild Wars 2, players can find talk of a warband dedicated to the memory of Kalla Scorchrazor.  Nicknamed Kalla’s Killers, it is an all female warband dedicated to taking out the Flame Legion.

There is still a long way to go regarding inclusive actions in video games.  And let’s not be too hasty, Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 isn’t without it’s flaws.  There’s an entire thread one could do that could be posted on either Escher Girls or Bikini Armour Battle Damage.  But, as far as things go, at least Guild Wars is a game that moves in the right direction.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2015 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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Coded Language


Listen to the podcast.

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on my blog about the word mad and how it’s coded language. Coded in that it is used to describe a person or group of people in order to dehumanize what that person or persons is actually attempting to convey.

A prime example is what’s happening in Baltimore right now, and before I go any further, when I wrote that piece, it was when Ferguson was in full swing and had captured the attention of the entire world. Many times, the word mad has been used to describe protestors. What should be used, and note, this is a word often used by right wing political pundits on major news networks and often times is used by any news reporter because it’s become so ingrained in our language, what should be used is angry. These people are angry. They are angry that their neighbours are being killed by police. They are angry that there is no justice in sight for them. They are angry that racism has evolved into something that has become more tolerable just by using certain words.

But mad, no. No they aren’t mad. Mad is a word that is coined for madness, which is equated to insanity, which can be equated to rabid, which can be equated to dogs. See how we got there? With just a few words, we can see how political pundits view protestors in places like Baltimore and Ferguson. Like dogs.

We’ve also got a new N-word. The word thug has been tossed about with wild abandon by many a sportscaster and news broadcaster, often to describe young, black men. The first big usage that I began to notice was in the 2014 Super Bowl, when Richard Sherman a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, was called a thug. Now, the word has been used to describe any young black man, from Sherman all the way to Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and hundreds more. Literally hundreds more.

Thug is just the new way racists feel they can get away with saying the N-word. Because they’ve been told that the N-word is a racist word and they don’t want to be caught using it, therefore being branded as a racist. Because, let’s face it, open bigots will use the N-word without any hesitation whatsoever. They don’t care about sensitivity and such things.

There’s also coded language in how things are reported. For many, the actions in Baltimore and Ferguson and many other cities in the United States that relate to the murder of young black men, are protests. They are protests by those in the black community who are fed up with the double standard that is the justice system. By a new form of slavery, one might say. That new form of slavery happens to be the for profit jails in the United States.

Of course, those protests are not being called protests. They’re being called riots. Let’s not forget, however, the original Gay Pride Parade? That was also called the Stonewall Riots.

Many are also saying that classism is the new racism. Unfortunately, this is also coded language to attempt to make some white people feel better. Sort of. Maybe it’s a way that white people (and I include myself there sometimes) can empathize with those in the black community. But classism is not racism. African Americans and African Canadians (and First Nation people) can feel the affect of classism and racism. White people can only feel the affect of classism.

I hear you in the back saying that racism can be affected against white people, that a black person called you a cracker just fifteen minutes ago. That’s just name calling, no worse than me calling someone a dick head. Racism is an institutional thing, whereby laws are set in place to ensure that marginalized people cannot get ahead. Often, and especially in North America, this racism makes sure that white, European decedents have a better chance than people of colour. From there, it’s the language the oppressors used against the marginalized people. And there’s a lot.

Classism is whereby the wealthy attempt to put in place laws that those who cannot afford certain privileges, then they can’t get ahead.

There’s an interesting history lesson I heard a while ago, which told where the divide between poor white people and poor black people really began. At one time, blacks and poor whites had a common affliction. They weren’t getting any money, they were treated like shit by the wealthy, and they faced hundreds of obstacles in order to get ahead. Keep in mind, this was when slavery was still legal in the Southern United States (and what eventually became the Confederacy). The wealthy saw what was happening. They saw there was an aspect of empathy, albeit a small aspect, between poor white farmers and workers in the South and black slaves. Poor people couldn’t get money, blacks were mistreated as slaves. So the wealthy sort of gave poor whites a club card of sorts. If there weren’t any slaves, then there would be more jobs for the poor in the South.

Sounds a little far fetched, sure, but it’s happening right now in the form of immigration and discussions surrounding illegal aliens getting work in the United States. The cry is that Mexicans are stealing jobs, but in fact many companies that deal in day labour are hiring Mexicans who manage to jump the border looking for work. The wealthy are always crying about jobs being stolen by day labourers from Mexico, but are too busy shipping jobs to dictatorships that don’t have human rights laws in place.

Mad. Thug. Riot. Classism. Those are just three words of coded language that are often used in ways to dehumanize, vilify, and denounce the actions of those looking to progress on the civil rights front.

There are those who might say that I can’t say that because I’m not an American. I’m a Canadian and therefore I don’t know what it’s like to live in that type of situation. And you’re right, I don’t. But I also am painfully aware that this country, meaning Canada, is far from being perfect. But that’s a discussion for another time.http://timholtorf.podbean.com/e/coded-language/

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Podcasts

 

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The Way I See It


Okay, first off, yes I know, I’m a bit late to the party.

Secondly, yes, I’m aware that my podcasting skillz are not leet, but that’s not the point.  Can you hear me speaking when you hit play on the podcast?  Good, that’s important.

I now have a podcasting site.  Does that mean that I’m going to give up wordpress and tumblr?  Hell, no!  I need some places after all to do a long rant in text form.  Sometimes the ol’ throat gets a bit harsh.

I’m also going to be posting up something else on this new podcasting site.  Along with my own opinions and observations about culture, entertainment and media, I’ll be putting together the serialized audiobook of The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider.  Maybe, just maybe, as I read it it’ll give me the opportunity to edit it again and add the things I’ve been wanting to add.

I suppose it might be a good idea to put down a link so people can view this endeavor of mine.  The Way I See It is hosted on Podbean, because it’s free and I’m not made of money.  I have to save money for buying decent recording equipment.

Take a view, follow me on Podbean if you wish, and comment on my rants and raves and even the serial series I’ll be posting.  There’s one podcast up already, and it’s about coded language.  I may post the text version here and at tumblr as well.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Podcasts, randomness

 

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Would The 13th Warrior work as a movie in this current political climate


Being it is one of my favourite movies, and that I just recently watched it (again), it raised the question of whether or not this movie would work in this current political climate where we are forced to see anyone who is an Arab as the “bad guy”.

The summary

First, what is The 13th Warrior?  It was a movie released in 1999 based on the book Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton of Jurassic Park fame.  The story is about a man from the Middle East, in particular Baghdad, who joins 12 Norse warriors to defeat an ancient evil that claims their lands in the north.  Starring Antonio Banderas as Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, he is sent off into the north as an ambassador after catching the eye of a beautiful woman who was married to another man.  He is a poet, not a warrior, but as Herger, played by Dennis Storhøi, says to him “very soon you will be”.

While the story focuses on Fahdlan mostly, it also develops the other characters that he travels with.  Those 13 warriors face the threat and end up vanquishing it.

1999 was a different time

In 1999 we were still two years away from 9-11.  There had been terror attacks from Muslim extremists, but nothing the sort of what we would see in 2001.  The term Arab wasn’t used as much as a derogatory term then as it is now.  Even with the movie The Siege starring Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Annette Benning, and Tony Shalhoub which came out the year before and focused on an attack similar to 9-11, there wasn’t as much fear about anyone from the Middle East.

Throughout 13th Warrior we are reminded where Fahdlan comes from and what he is.

“Only an Arab would bring a dog to war.”

“Go go, Arab.”

“Bring the Arab.”

It’s made clear right away where Fahdlan comes from, as a map shows he is from “the greatest city in the world”, which is Baghdad.  Would any of that be used today?  I’m not really sure.

Not without problems

Even for 1999, 13th Warrior still isn’t without it’s problems in casting.  While Banderas may be a possible choice as a scholarly figure for the character of Fahdlan, there are others that could have been used.  One that comes to mind is Oded Fehr, who played the role of Ardeth Bay in the first and second Mummy movies.  The Mummy also came out in 1999 (it’s possible that Fehr may have been considered but there might have been scheduling problems, but it’s also safe to say Banderas carried heavier weight as an actor at the time).

But it’s also safe to say that having Banderas as the character of Fahdlan was fine because there was an Arabic and Muslim influence in Spain and Portugal at that time.  But then, one would have to admit that also at that time, Baghdad was the cultural, philosophical, theological, scientific, mathematical, astrological, and literary center of the known world at that time.  It’s recorded that heavy prices were paid to scholars, and that they were paid the equivalent of what sports superstars are paid now.  So it wouldn’t be a stretch to say Spaniards or Portuguese were living and working in the Middle East at the time.  Even in Gladiator, its mentioned that Russel Crowe’s character of Maximus is a Spaniard.

However, that would not be the case, because each time it’s mentioned that the Northmen call Fahdlan Arab.  They are aware of what an Arab looks like, and they are most likely aware of what a Spaniard looks like.  How?  They’ve obviously traveled and have some education.  Herger, after all, can speak Greek.

This, of course, does not even come close to how the threat that encroaches on the Viking village is portrayed.  All of the enemy warriors are made out to look like savages with war paint and darker skin tones.

Still, would that mean that a movie like 13th Warrior could make it in 2015?  Probably not.  Not with the Fox News cycles condemning every Muslim/Arab they see, and people like Rupert Murdoch demanding all Muslims take responsibility for the small percentage of extremists in Islam.  Not when movies like American Sniper do their damnedest to vilify Arabs, Iraqis and anyone of the Muslim faith.

In today’s day, sadly a movie like 13th Warrior wouldn’t even make it past the planning stage in Hollywood.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2015 in Fun, randomness

 

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Rupert Murdoch and common sense


Here’s something that’s really telling.

Earlier this week, Rupert Murdoch said in a tweet that all Muslims need to be held accountable for the recent terror attacks in Paris (one might assume that may have also included the town that was wiped out in Nigeria, but I’m gonna go on the side of common sense and say that no, Rupert Murdoch was not talking about the deaths of thousands of brown people).  In rebuttal, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling tweeted “I was born Christian. If that makes Rupert Murdoch my responsibility, I’ll auto-excommunicate”.  As Australian television presenter Adam Hills said “wow, you know you’re doing bad shit when the woman who created Voldemort thinks you’re evil”.

Hills brought up a point, though.  There are 1.6 billion followers of Islam in the world.  If Islam really was a breeding ground for terror, we’d all be fucking dead right now.  With even just rough estimates as to the number of members of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram, the percentage of terrorists within Islam is still only 0.000175 percent.  Less than half of 1 percent.  And that 0.000175 percent as an actual number; 28,000.  28,000 is still a pretty massive number.  Here in Saskatchewan, that’s larger than the population of North Battleford.  That’s half of Moose Jaw.  And that number is still only 0.000175 percent of all followers of Islam.

Sure, there’s those who say that there is a larger number of Muslims who secretly agree with the actions of that 0.000175 percent.  Somehow, I doubt even that number is over 1% of all of Islam.  I’m pretty sure that the other 99% percent of those who follow Islam are actually just trying to get on with their day, just like the rest of us.

But you can be sure that there’s also a collective inner cheer from right wing Christians who agree with some fuck-nut flies a plane into the side of an IRS building.  Those guys actually aren’t so silent.  You search youtube and you’ll find all sorts of right wing “freedom fighters” who herald this idiot with all sorts of praise.  These are the same type of shit-heads who probably were cheering on Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing.

And this shitty behaviour isn’t new.  During the American Civil War, in the British Houses of Parliament and the Canadian Legislature at the time, politicians were cheering for every Confederate victory.  Because that meant the continuation of cheap textiles.

So does that mean that Christians should be held accountable for all the shitty things done here?  The list is pretty long.  From FLQ terrorists in Quebec during the October Crisis to the Wako, Texas cult that finally committed suicide as they were surrounded by Firearms and Tobacco to the people of Jonestown.  How about every single white man who gets pissed off, picks up a gun and shoots up a school?  Instead of labeling them as poor, misguided, and troubled youth, how about we start branding them as the monsters that they really are, who decided to take the lives of dozens of children, or college students, or theatre goers.  What about every fucking douchebag who thinks he’s entitled to a woman and threatens to kill her or take that next step and end the life of a woman just because she won’t fucking date him.

If we demand that the leaders of Islam take responsibility for the terrorism that has claimed thousands of lives, then we Christians better start claiming responsibility for ever Ecole Polytechnic, every Dawson College, every Columbine,  every Oklahoma City, and every fucking idiotic Fox News presenter.

While we deride one religion for the atrocities of a few, we better recognize that there’s an equally shitty number within our own religion.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Life, randomness

 

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Mad Dogs and Englishmen


demonstrators-defy-curfew-ferguson

“Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”

~Rudyard Kipling, Gunga Din

With apologies to Kipling, the need to describe the word “mad” has come up as of late.

When I was a boy, my mother said something to me.  “People don’t get mad.  Dogs get mad.  People get angry.”  My mother is very well versed in the structure and word usage of English, and she is quite Victorian in her tastes, though from time to time when she does become quite angry, the Scottish in our family starts to come out.  But she’s got a very valid point regarding the word “mad”.

Mad is a word that has a connection to insanity.  And thanks to Kipling’s Gunga Din, the word can be equated to dogs.  Mad, or madness, equals insanity or rabid, as in what a dog goes through when inflicted with rabies.

And I’ve heard the word used in media outlets to describe the protestors in Ferguson and other areas of the States, if not in different parts of the world.  “Protestors are mad” some news reports say, and by doing so, they underline their own feelings about those who are protesting their for their rights to be recognized and for their lives to matter.  By equating those protestors with the word “mad”, media outlets are doing their best to have viewers who aren’t directly affected by the events in Ferguson to think of those protestors in one light.

Insane.  Inhuman.  Mad.  Dogs.

Darren Wilson, the officer who murdered teenager Mike Brown, has already helped dehumanize Brown by calling him “it” and describing him as demonic.  Which is a tradition used by those who ally themselves with extremist groups like the Klu Klux Klan.  They enjoy hearing the word “mad” to be used against the protestors, because the word itself dehumanizes them.  The mostly black protestors are, in their opinion, insane.  Inhuman.  No better than dogs.

The protestors are angry.  They’re frustrated.  And they’re furious.  But they aren’t mad.  Their reaction to the killing of Mike Brown, along with the killing of other black youth by police officers around the States (along with the assaults committed by the police against, essentially, children), is not something irrational.  It’s not something insane.  It is completely justifiable.  These are people fed up with the justice system that gives huge breaks to white people who break the law by murdering a black person (or other person of colour).  They are frustrated by a system that vilifies black teens who have been killed, who are victims of crime often committed by white men in authority, yet white criminals who kill numerous people in a shooting rampage are called quiet, an honourable student, and given the boy next door treatment.

The use of such words is coded language, make no mistake of that.  Calling the predominantly black protestors mad is not by accident.  It’s not even the “new” use of English.  It’s coded language to call them insane.  It’s coded language to dehumanize them, just as language has been used to dehumanize black and brown people for hundreds of years.

Of mad dogs and Englishmen indeed.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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Before we start saying “That doesn’t happen here”


A lot of Canadians right now are looking at Ferguson and saying “thank God that doesn’t happen here”.  Stop saying that right now.  Because, in this country, we’ve got a history that may not involve African Canadians, but there is another group which does have a history of such conflicts.  And it dates back to before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

In more recent history, First Nations people in Canada have had clashes with the police as they protest to demand the same rights that every other Canadian has.

The Oka Crisis

Beginning July 11, 1990, a 78 day armed standoff took place near the town of Oka, Quebec.  Between Mohawk residents of Kanesatake, the Quebec provincial police, and the Canadian Armed Forces, Mohawk leaders demanded that developers stop a planned expansion of a golf course on land that had been disputed for over 300 years.  Deemed a sacred burial ground, Mohawk people began with peaceful barricades which were met with armed police and soldiers.

The Innu occupation and blockade of the Canadian Air Force/NATO base at Goose Bay, Labrador

Largely started by Innu women to challenge the further dispossession of their territories and the destruction of their land-based way of life by the military industrial complex’s encroachment onto the Innu peoples’ homeland of Nitassinan.

The Lubicon Cree struggle against oil and gas development on their traditional territories in present day Alberta

The Lubicon Cree have been struggling to protect a way of life threatened by intensified capitalist development on their homelands since at least 1939. Over the years, the community has engaged in a number of very public protests to get their message across, including a well-publicized boycott of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and the associated Glenbow Museum exhibit, The Spirit Sings.

First Nations blockades in British Columbia

Throughout the 1980s, First Nations in B.C. grew extremely frustrated with the painfully slow pace of the federal government’s comprehensive land claims process and the province’s racist refusal to recognize Aboriginal title within its its borders.  The result was a decade’s worth of very disruptive blockades, which at its height in 1990 were such a common occurrence that Vancouver newspapers felt the need to publish traffic advisories identifying delays caused by First Nation roadblocks in the province’s interior. Many of the blockades were able to halt resource extraction on Native land for protracted periods of time.

The Algonquins of Barriere Lake

By 1989, the Algonquins of Barrier Lake were embroiled in a struggle to stop clear-cut logging within their traditional territories in present day Quebec because these practices threatened their land and way of life. Under the leadership of customary chief, Jean-Maurice Matchewan, the community used blockades to successfully impede clear-cutting activities affecting their community.

The Temagami First Nation blockades of 1988 and 1989 in present-day Ontario.

The Temagami blockades were set up to protect their nation’s homeland from further encroachment by non-Native development. The blockades of 1988-89 were the most recent assertions of Temagami sovereignty in over a century-long struggle to protect the community’s right to land and freedom from colonial settlement and development.

To the more recent activities of the Idle No More protests, First Nations people in Canada have been met by armed police and military walls.  Go back further to 1885 when Louis Riel organized First Nation and Metis people against the federal government when land settled and farmed by Metis settlers was being taken away for the more European settlers the federal government was trying to get in the territory which would eventually become the Province of Saskatchewan.  Or years earlier, when Riel began his organized protests that helped usher in the Province of Manitoba.

We live in a country where Aboriginal women don’t grow up with the fear of if they are ever raped but when they are.  Aboriginal women suffer and massively disproportionate amount of violence, with the largest perpetrator of that violence being white men.  Called a silent genocide, Aboriginal women suffer the most of any violence that is inflicted against First Nation people.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a problem with an anti-black attitude in Canada as well.  Alberta has a high number of organized KKK.  In 1991, Leo Lachance was shot and killed by Carly Nerland outside a pawn shop in Prince Albert.  Nerland, a member of the KKK and lead of the Saskatchewan branch of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian Aryan Nation.  There have been white supremest groups in Canada identified with names like Heritage Front and Final Solution.

Almost one hundred years ago, in 1919 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, The Halifax Race Riots began as a group of drunk men with nothing better to do, and ended up with a two day charge of destruction.  The targets were mostly Chinese, Jewish, and black owned businesses.  Decades later in 1991, a similar event would happen as young black men believed they were targeted by a white bouncer who would not allow them to enter a night club in Halifax.

So we have this problem in Canada.  The main difference being it doesn’t happen as often.  But it does happen.  It may not be as extensive as what is going on in Ferguson right now, but it does happen.  We’re on the cusp of something like Ferguson happening in this country with First Nation people.  They have been frustrated ever since the Meeche Lake Accords excluded Aboriginal people.  They have been frustrated with the lack of protection and the lack of interest in solving the disappearances and murders of Aboriginal women.  There is also the racially charged attacks against those people who are identified as being of Middle Eastern ancestry.  Ever since 911, these attacks, whether considered verbal or physical, have happened in this country.

So do not look at Ferguson and say “thank God that doesn’t happen here”, because we’re not without blame for our own misgivings.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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The monstrous hipocrasy of GamerGate


GamerGate has become a monstrous thing.  It says it is a attempting to clean up corruption in journalism.  If that was the case, one of their biggest targets should be Fox News.  On the face of it, cleaning up journalism and forcing it to be fair and balanced is a good thing.  But in all honesty, GamerGate really doesn’t have a firm or solid philosophy.

At it’s birth, it began as one guy whining about his ex-girlfriend, who just happened to be making a video game.  He whined so much, he wrote a 10,000 word rant (which is a really big waste of time).  With that kind of energy, he could have used that to make a really awesome first draft of a novella, but no, he used it to complain that his ex-girlfriend cheated on him.

From there, it went into something else, as members of this “movement” attempted to give it solid ground.  GamerGate is against corrupt journalism.  But what they view as being corrupt is opinionated reviews of video games.  Which is impossible to make a review of a video game without being opinionated.  The reviewer plays the game, the reviewer has an opinion on everything in that game from story, to graphics, to game play, and even box art if he or she so chooses.  That’s how a review goes.  If you disagree with the review, that’s fine.  No one’s saying you’re stupid (or they shouldn’t) because you find a review that doesn’t match with your feelings on a game (or movie).  Hell, there’s games and movies I loved playing that reviewers tanked on.

GamerGate has recently said they are anti-harassment.  Again, this is fine on the surface.  But many of the more outspoken members of this movement also happen to be serial harassers.  Several have targeted known feminist and pop culture reviewer Anita Sarkeesian.  They have done so with death threats and rape threats.  And she’s not alone.  Some of the more outspoken members of this “movement” have gone on to make parody video games where Anita is beaten bloody.  I use parody with tongue in cheek.  And it’s constant harassment.  If GamerGate is so against harassment, why isn’t it, as a “movement”, attempting to filter out these negative elements and moving away from them.

But GamerGate has allied themselves (or has received alliance from) some major Men’s Right Activists.  Some of whom are outspoken haters of reviewers like Sarkeesian.

If GamerGate does anything, it’ll be to make mainstream media take several awkward steps away from the video game industry.  Throwing it back into the stone age of media and ignoring it completely.  GamerGate has accomplished to make themselves look like right wing extreme radicals who want education stripped away from women (the Taliban), who want the rights of women’s health scrutinized by legislative law (several right wing legislatures in the United States), and close off equal opportunity to everyone (many States which have but a ban on gay marriage or made it impossible for trans*gender people to get jobs or living accomodations).

There’s going to be those who will say comparing GamerGate to the Taliban is extreme.  Normally, I would agree, but one GamerGate individual has already proven that comparison is dead on.  Of course, it could also be compared to the Montreal massacre at Ecole Polytechnique in the late 80s.  A message was sent to USU which stated “Feminists have ruined my life, and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all others they’ve wronged”.  It was signed Marc Lepine, who is ironically, the name of the individual who killed a number of women at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989.  One individual, basically a murdering psychopath.  But GamerGate has a whole host who have proven they are ready, willing, and able to issue death threats, rape threats, to dox, to form hate filled diatribes of women, and blame it all on some fantasy called misandry (which DOESN’T FUCKING EXIST!).  So I think the comparison of GamerGate champions to the Taliban is pretty dead on.

I do apologize if the comparison has triggered anyone who has actually been affected by the Taliban, as they as a group have committed atrocious acts of violence, have committed acts of rape and murder, and have used their version of ideals to commit crimes in the name of God.  Those who have felt the effects of the Taliban, and other organizations like them, I do apologize because your suffering is very real, and we should take care when mentioning it.

But GamerGate, you’re on the cusp of becoming that.  You are driving people from their homes with real fears that you will enact violence on them.  You are very close to becoming a terrorist organization, leaderless or not.  You, GamerGate, are a new brand of evil.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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Has Star Trek taken a step back


From the outset, Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future was a very progressive one.  I know there was problematic things that Roddenberry did, but he also paved the way for a television series that broke boundaries.

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From the fact that the Enterprise crew was a diverse collection of individuals, to the fact that a black woman was featured as a standard bridge officer, right up to television’s first inter-racial kiss, Star Trek’s early days pushed the envelope and didn’t budge when the envelope attempted to push back.

Even though executives attempted to get Nichelle Nichols fired and off the show, making her working life difficult, to the talk she had with Martin Luther King Jr. about black representation on television.  At the time, George Takei wasn’t out as a homosexual, but he is not only recognized as being the dependable helm officer of the Enterprise, but also a bold and positive representative of the LGBT+ community.

The only way that Star Trek at the time could be stopped was through it’s cancellation.  After less than 100 episodes, Star Trek came to a close, and many thought that was it.

Until the late 70s.

The original motion picture wasn’t anything to write home about, and in all honesty it was the start of a curse that Star Trek motion pictures began to undertake.  The odd number horrible curse (with the exception of II, III, and IV, that all created a seamless narrative).  But even with the successes of the motion picture universe, there were very few who thought that the Enterprise would fly through space on the small screen once more.

Until 1987.

With the original air date of September 26, 1987, a new Enterprise with a new crew began to take to the final frontier.  They did take some getting used to.  Trekkies (or Trekkers) had grown used to Kirk as the captain, and weren’t exactly sure how to view this older captain with a British accent and a French name.

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But the Next Generation picked up in attempting to produce progressive and envelope pushing episodes where the original series had left off.  From creating a race of beings who were androgynous to showing a good representation of the effects of torture.

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That continued when Star Trek Deep Space Nine aired.  Though not a captain at first, Benjamin Sisko was the first black commander of a space station, and eventually the first black captain of a starship in the television series (it must be pointed out, that does not include those characters who had bit parts and cameos).  Avery Brooks took the role of Sisko and ran with it.

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Deep Space Nine was also a series which put a lot of emphasis on women, and even women of colour.  From Keiko O’Brien to Cassidy Yates, from Major Keira to Lt. Dax.  Deep Space Nine was a very character driven series that explored the lives of the crew of DS9 and the Defiant, whether that be through the good times or the bad times.  And it showed that while these were good people, they have made some questionable choices and decisions throughout their lives.

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Deep Space Nine even explored, but did not fully invite, the lives of LGBT+ onto the screen, with the airing of Rejoined (Season 4, Episode 6), where Dax is reuinted with a past lover from a previous host.

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By this time, The Next Generation had moved into the realm of motion pictures, and while DS9 was slowly coming to an end, the creators took another bold move.  They began a fourth series, but instead of a ship with the safety of the Alpha Quadrant and the Federation close at hand, a ship thrown to the other side of the galaxy and left to defend herself.

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But this ship, Voyager, would have a marked difference from the past Enterprises and Defiant.  This ship would be the first in network television to be in command by a female Captain.

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Captain Kathryn Janeway may have fit the motherly role, trying to get her crew to work with a Maquis crew as they attempted to get back home, but she also made hard decisions.  Janeway and the crew of Voyager have run into the Borg more times than Picard and the Enterprise.  They’ve discovered more new species and made more first contact scenarios than any other since the first Starfleet vessels began exploring.  It might be said that Voyager might only be second to the NX-Enterprise for number of first contact missions.

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As with the predecessors, Voyager had an equal mix of male and female officers (though, it did still tip toward the male side).  B’Lanna Torres was the first female chief engineer (Scotty, La Forge, and O’Brien being previously seen on past series).  Seven was an expert in not just the Borg but astrometrics, science and engineering.  Kess was a compitent nurse, though left when her psychic abilities began to threaten the ship (though she did return in later seasons).  Even the difference of “good guy” and “bad guy” had the roles filled with both men and women, as Seska became a thorn in Voyager’s side.

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NOTE: Seska began the early seasons wearing a blue uniform for science, later episodes until she was revealed to be a Cardassian spy, she wore gold of engineering.  Also, actress Martha Hackett appeared in DS9 as the Romulan officer in charge of the Defiant’s cloaking device.  Lost opportunities as I thought that would have been an interesting addition.

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When Voyager ended it was a while before the last Star Trek series appeared on air.  Instead of progressing forward in time, the idea was to look back at the history of Starfleet.  The NX-01 Enterprise was launched with Jonathon Archer as her captain.

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Even though the show was set in the 22nd Century, it still had a progressive feel to it, as it showed how the Enterprise and her crew dealt with each situation and became leaders to pave the way for a unified and peaceful Federation.

During the more than 28 seasons of Star Trek, there was just one regret voiced by those who had a hand in bringing it all to the big screen.  That was there was no permanent LGBT+ representation on board any of the vessels.

Now, we’ve had two new motion pictures in the reboots.  While they were good and entertaining, they left a lot to be desired.  There was no feeling of hope as the other series brought to the table.  No feeling that the future was going to not only be okay, but better.  More inclusive and more accepting.  Lens flairs and over using tropes from the original series (which was only a very, very minor part of Shatner and Nimoy’s Star Trek).

While the adventure has been great in the reboot, is Star Trek taking a step back from what it was?

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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The whole thing about MRAs


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Look, it’s MRAs personified.

ok so all these guys who are like “men have it hard too!!! we’re expected to be manly and emotionless, we have feelings!!!” do realize that it’s other men who enforce those standards on guys. literally guys created those standards to be more powerful than women. so maybe instead of getting angry at girls for talking about their oppression, realize that you should be fighting with girls against unfair gender expectations and inequality  ~via this-tragic-affair

I sometimes get comments that I’m being overly generalizing when I make a small comment about MRAs (which from now on, is short for Misogynists Raging Absentmindedly… or something like that, someone can come up with something better).  I’m told that the language I’m using is harsh and I shouldn’t use such language to battle ignorance and bigotry.

Well, screw that.  I feel no problem with fighting fire with fire.  MRAs tend to use cyclical arguments, No True Scottsman, and try to play devil’s advocate when there’s no need to play devil’s advocate.  They’re given credence in media when they don’t even produce any viable solutions to problems that affect us all.  You know what group does; feminists.  I’m talking about all inclusive feminists, the ones who include trans men and women, women of colour, the plight of PSTD on inner city youth, the plague of stop and frisk laws, and stand your ground laws, the feminists who point out that while most talk about misogyny in rap music, they forget about the same thing in rock, pop, metal and country.  MRAs produce nothing, they don’t stage rallies, try to raise awareness, try to raise money, or try to combat actual problems that affect actual people.  Their entire existence is to shut up those who point out the incredible disparities and problems in society and attempt to make things safer for everyone.

I used to be ones of those idiots.  To be honest, if my current 44 year old self would meet my 22 year old self, I’d have a broken jaw because I wouldn’t be able to hold back the urge to punch my younger self in the face because of how stupid he/I was.

So no, I don’t feel that being polite to MRAs should be considered.  Get angry at them, make them feel small, make them feel stupid.  Do all of those things until they decide that it’s time to actually open their eyes and see, crawl out from under the rock they’ve been living in.

MRAs don’t deserve politeness.  Just like any other hate group.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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