Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lying for Xenu

Earlier this week, former Scientology bigwig Marty Rathbun leaked documents on his blog describing the church's efforts to plant a mole inside South Park Studios. Everybody saw "Trapped in the Closet," and everyone with half a brain looked that shit up after the episode aired to confirm the truth of its claims.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone exposed Scientology's wacky intergalactic secrets to millions of viewers around the world at a time when the church's membership (and thereby its revenue) was ever-expanding. These secrets were supposed to be kept behind a pay wall. Who thought the COS was just going to let this go? Fact is, you fuck with Miscavige's bottom line, the best you can hope for is a mole in your workplace. I can't wait to see more documents, to find out exactly how far they got in this ill-advised Super Adventure.

Until then, I'd like to discuss something about the documents that disturbs me intensely. Apparently, the church used Lloyd Kaufman's old "Yale buddy" Eric Sherman to pump Kaufman for information about Parker and Stone. Kaufman, of course, is the founder of Troma Studios, and one of my favorite human beings on the planet. Top ten, for real. I love this man. Here I am with him a few years ago at a convention (I'm next to Sgt. Kabukiman).

I show you this for full disclosure. When Lloyd Kaufman says that he had no idea Eric Sherman was a Scientologist, I believe him. When he says he would never intentionally do anything to harm Parker and Stone, I know this to be true. It angers me to my core that someone purporting to be his friend would lie to him just to get information that could hurt other people. In what universe is this moral?

It is moral in the universe where society affords privilege to the religious liar--in other words, the universe we currently occupy. We have no way of determining whether or not there was a moment when Sherman said to himself, "Gee, it's kind of shitty to use my friends this way." Regardless, it's clear that Sherman determined any reservations he had were less important than doing as his religious leaders told him to do.

And Sherman's religious leaders declared that Parker and Stone needed to go down for having the temerity not only to mock Scientology's ridiculous ideas, but also to point out what those ideas actually are (which circumvents the revenue stream). Sherman decided that this crime--the crime of producing a cartoon that his religion did not like--was a worse offense than betraying the trust of his old college friend to get gossip, and presenting a mole for formal introduction, that said mole might sabotage people's lives.

In a culture that encouraged people to question religious authority, would Sherman still have made this decision? Possibly. The authoritarians will be with us always. But in such a culture, a mendacious organization like the Church of Scientology (amongst many others) would be less likely to flourish.

More thoughts on this later.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lady Popular's Biggest Crime...

...Is that it is frightfully boring. After reading John Walker's review of Lady Popular, I had to give it a try myself. The game is exactly as Walker described it, down to my sexy new boyfriend Car washer. He's kind of a hottie. Got that greasy blue-collar wage slave thing going for him. But he only gives me $50 per week, and that is not nearly enough money to pay for this cute little $4900 shirt I found at The Mall.

I love playing Avatar Dress-Up. If items of clothing have useful or magical properties in a game, I like to put together special outfits for specific missions. My XBox avatar changes clothes every few months. I dress my Rock Band avatar for every city my band Piss Bat plays. It's just fun, and I think a lot of that fun is having the freedom to make the avatar look any way one chooses. Because my head is lumpy, I probably shouldn't wear a Toxie-green Mohawk, but my Fallout character looks great in a 'hawk.

Lady Popular does not give the player that kind of freedom. The game dictates what kind of hairstyle the player should get in order to level up. So, even though the Hair Stylist has a huge selection of styles from which to choose, to get ahead the player has to conform to the game's idea of how one's avatar should look. Boring, boring, boring.

Now, a case could be made that the game teaches young girls about color and style, much like a more straightforward educational game might tell the player to pick a square or a triangle from a list of shapes. But the game dictates other things that should be the player's choice, like my boyfriend Car washer. Nothing against the guy; like I said, he's adorable, but wouldn't it be more fun to flirt with different people at The Club? (And if the game actually is for girls young enough to need to be taught color, why does the character have to go to a meat market to find a date for the party? I am pretty liberal most of the time, but five-year-old kids just should not be dating.)

Wouldn't it be more interesting to make seducing a date for the party part of the game? All I did was click a button, and BAM! Car washer and I were an item. That's no fun. I don't know anything about him, except for his occupation, and he knows nothing about me, except that I look totally smokin' in these new jeans I got at The Mall.

Which brings me to another reason this game is so boring. Lady Popular is supposed to be a social game--the Lady goes to school to train for a job, she dances and flirts at The Club, etc.--but nowhere is there a character sheet with XP to allocate. A Lady with high Endurance, for example, could dance longer at The Club, and a Lady with high Barter could get better deals on items at The Mall. Instead, every Lady is exactly the same as every other Lady. Dullsville for sure.

So, I played as far as Level 2 and then went back to Dead Island, where there are no wardrobe changes for Xian Mei, but where I can live out my zombie apocalypse fantasies in a safe environment.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Proper Fallacies: What Is Not Ad Hom

Everybody loves to commit logical fallacies, but it is important to get them just right. At this very moment, someone on the Internet is accusing someone else on the Internet of an ad hominem attack. Is it so? Here's how you can tell.

You and I are debating X. You claim that X is true, while I claim that X is false.

1. You say: X is true because Y.

I say: No, fuckburglar, X is false because Not-Y.

This is not an ad hominem fallacy. It is a valid argument containing an insult. To truly commit to the fallacy, avoid valid arguments.

2. You say: X is true because Y.

I say: No, fuckburglar, X is false because you burgle fucks.

This is the ad hominem fallacy in its proper form. The truth or falsity of claim X has nothing to do with whether or not you actually burgle fucks. A mere insult is lazy; it lacks the fallacious flavor of the juicy ad hom.

I hope this has been helpful. We really must elevate the dialogue, you know?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Off to a fantastic start

Remember what I said about flaking right out as soon as I make a commitment to something? Yeah. It turns out that Mondays are terrible for doing anything except finishing up my schoolwork for the week. Wednesdays are a little bit better, except that initial discussion posts are due on Thursdays, so I have to make sure to do all my reading before then. Fridays are fine. Probably I should have been writing on Fridays up until now, but then I just felt embarrassed because I hadn't posted anything on Monday or Wednesday.

Anyway, that's the deal. I am going to come up with a better plan, and try to implement it next week.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Plan

It's October (Hooray!), and that means this blog is revived as of today. So, welcome to the new doubleplusunruly! I will try to post once a week at least. I'm actually hoping for three times a week, but am making no guarantees since I am prone to flaking right out the moment I make a commitment to anything. If everything works as planned, the average week should go something like this:

Monday: TV round-up. Dexter returns this weekend, and The Walking Dead will be returning later in the month. American Horror Story looks promising, although I see now that it will air on Wednesdays and not Sundays. So maybe I will just devote a post here and there to squee mercilessly over Dylan McDermott and Zachary Quinto being on the same show.

Wednesday: Science! I thought it would be fun/interesting to profile a woman in science every week. I may still do this, but I did not want to limit my Wednesdays. So, for now, expect sciency-type stuff on Wednesdays; possibly profiles of women, possibly a science of the week round-up kind of thing. I'm still working out the details.

Friday: Freestyle. Could be fashion, could be movies or games, could be philosophy, could be zombies, or a rant about something I noticed in a commercial, or political commentary or some other geeky sort of thing. Could be squeeing mercilessly over Dylan McDermott and Zachary Quinto being on the same show (ZOMG SKUH-WEEEEEEE). You'll never know what's coming on Fridays! If anything comes at all. Take it as part of the surprise.

We will try this format for the month of October, and see how it works, tweaking bits as needed. Please enjoy, and thanks for reading.