Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Don Lemon and Cosby's Accuser

Before anyone asks, Rape is wrong, and treating women as sexual objects is wrong. I am not herein suggesting any rape victim has deserved their rape.  CNN Anchor Don Lemon told a woman who reported that Bill Cosby had sexually assaulted her that she could have perhaps prevented some of it by fighting back, specifically, biting the penis. The internet and social media are going wild with mockery of such a statement.  This is perhaps less mockery but we are paying attention to the act of Don Lemon interviewing the accuser.  If Lemon had let the accuser speak without being challenged, he'd have perhaps been accused of not doing his job.  Although it seems to me, the bias is towards the accuser in such cases of public airings versus the courts, even if the defense attorneys and ultimate victory in courts are very much on the side of the wealthy and famous.

Don Lemon discredited his CNN Anchor chair by seeming to attack the accuser, and suggest something that seems perhaps to be a fantasy.  If only the starving children in Africa would live near food, they wouldn't starve.  If only the people of Buffalo NY would move they wouldn't get dumped with snow.  If only...   But this isn't altogether true.  Whether men should rape is obviously known, they should not.  But whether they do or not, is entirely different.  Words are the weapon of the PC people.  Don't do this does not equal people not doing this.  Because a woman has a right to wear anything and not be called a slut, not be catcalled, not be insulted, or hit on, does not mean she won't be.  She is likely to be all of those things. Men should not say or act upon those words, but they do. 

So this isn't me, Alex Ness, saying Don Lemon is stupid.  I haven't a clue if he is.  This is me saying, you can say whatever you like, and it doesn't change reality.  Men rape, men are assholes towards women.  The issue at hand is about men's behavior and words, and Don Lemon said something that was fantasy, or words without a backing in reality.  It to me reflects the ridiculous PC world of words over reality.  The reality is, the woman in question was being attacked.  Her first instinct was possibly how do I survive, not how do I hurt this fucker.  People need to understand that what we need is a change of reality, not a change of words.  Instead of telling people just fight back, long after the attack is done, ask perhaps what was going through her mind at the time.  Get a sense of the victim's suffering.  Don Lemon failed in that.

Rape is a volatile issue because at least in some cases it can be a POV issue of men/women.  But there are ways to measure damage to a woman, through the rape kit, and if there are repeated victim stories that have a common accused there can be a narrative created, and more.  I am not accusing Bill Cosby, but, Lemon's seeming defense of Cosby by seemingly asserting that if it were rape the victim could have stopped it by biting the penis, suggests a desire to soften the event, and make it questionable.

I suggest Lemon has made himself an ass by acting as he has, and has not helped clarify the issue.  But I suggest, we need a different way of dealing with rape in America.  We need to acknowledge that it happens, treat it as being something horrible, and not try to explain it away through the fantasy of words.  Fantasy of words in the PC world go both ways, both to obscure, and to falsely enhance.  I suggest we begin to say what things are, rather than say what they should be.

Whether or not Cosby's legacy is secure does not matter one bit.  If he raped women, he should not be able to escape the punishment. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Robert Plant Doesn't Seem To Be A Money Grubbing Son of a Bitch

People will tell you that every decision in life comes down to money.  But in the recent affairs of Robert Plant, former lead singer of Led Zeppelin, it simply isn't the case.  I've tried to tell people this, and all too often I am called an idealist, or a reverse cynic, whatever the hell that is, or a wide variety of nasty names meant to suggest that I have no clue about how life works, because real people choose to take the money, over all other concerns every time.   

I am not a fan of Led Zeppelin and I can honestly say, there was a time I was watching a Robert Plant video when I had the flu, and the video caused me to vomit.  It wasn't his fault, but just for those who think I am worshiping him for his talent, or his choice, I am not.  For one thing, I don't know his motivation for turning down 250 million dollars.  Another thing is, maybe that amount of money just isn't enough to get back together with people he doesn't like.  I don't know the answer.  

What I do know, is, in this world people think he is fool.  I've seen the comments about this on twitter and facebook, I've seen the news items popping up all over the net.   Everyone makes their assumptions.  He is by no means a hero for turning down money.  He is not a hero for saying no to a reunion.  But maybe we should applaud his ethics for being willing not to do something he didn't believe in, just because he was being paid insanely huge amounts of money.  I've never made much money, so I can't speak for the choice he made, I'll never have that choice to make. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Not D&D, Still RPG

This is a brief look at pen and paper RPGing of my past.  Your experiences will obviously be different.  I don't expect anyone to find their experience to match my own.   I have been asked what I have played that is not AD&D 1st Ed.  The list is long, but not deep, in that, I played a number of games once.  With RPGs you needed more than one player, and I guess, I found too many games not interesting enough to continue to play for play ease, or interest.  Another issue was it could be too hard to learn regarding the game vis-a-vis the players and game master.  There were other games that I liked a lot but I never found players to join me in my quest to play.   The success for me of any game or system began with, is it fun? Then you had to ask, was it worth the time it took to learn the system, and then, did it reward your time in that system?  Do you want to go back to the game and play more?  In most cases I found that the answer was yes the games were good.  But the average RPGers wanted to get stuff, they bickered, they were not there to play roles, they were there to roll dice and get shit.  So because gaming is joint story telling, my experience with most games was bittersweet.  The time invested by me was lost due to other players.  They were not interested in playing the way the games were intended by the designers of the games to be played.  


Tunnels & Trolls

This game is the highest scoring for me of the non-AD&D games.   The reason for it is, simplicity of learning the system, the fun of the general system, and, you can play it solitaire.  Get snowed in a weekend or two in Fargo with your work done, no books to read and no one can visit, and you’ll see the point.

Gamma World

Gamma World first edition was a bit silly, but, it was fun silly, and it worked in many ways.  The various orders and fractures of society do make sense, for what the world is actually going through.  I did not like some aspects of the game, and almost no one played the game and understood it in the same way as I did , but, I did enjoy it a lot.

Call of Cthulhu

This game did capture the flavor of the world of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.  I liked the game mechanics, and the flavor of how the game is structured.   I ended up playing, however, with a load of stupid, or over confident jerks who thought guns and bombs would mean victory.  My professor of arcane knowledge and his assistant, who was a master of kung fu and also a bright man, were skilled and never went mad, but they were always cursed with people who accompanied them who wanted to kill what could not be killed.



I was always told, dude, you need to play Runequest, the combat is so much more realistic than D&D and it is more fun and the religious aspect is more real.  Well, ummm, when I played it, it was silly, and stupid, and made less than any sort of sense.  I am not suggesting Every round of every game of Runequest was like this, for every player, but my experience, (which this column of course reflects) was that RQ was truly a system that was ok, but in a setting that did not move me, with a world and monsters that I thought were boring and childish.  Your mileage will vary.  My mileage will obviously vary. 

Warhammer Fantasy RPG

This was a huge disappointment for me.  I love the culture of Warhammer, the monster names, the dark nasty beasts, the angry edgy warriors… but the game play was hard, didn’t make a lot of sense.  The players who played it were people who played the miniatures games, and didn’t want to play role playing, so, everyone who was at the table came looking for something else, and got nothing out of the game.  It was no fun.  However, I did use the names of some of the beasts in my AD&D world, and I call Orcs: Orks, as it should be.


I bought this game for cheap one summer and brought it with me to college thinking my friends and I could play.  But it had game mechanics that were not conducive to role playing, and ultimately, we couldn’t see the point of it.  Someone I knew ask for my opinion of the game, because they had bought it as well and I said, it is a nice looking game.   And truly, that is about it.  The pieces were nice, but, it had very little RPG potential.

Boot Hill

Cowboys, Native Americans, Outlaws, Sheriffs, Rustlers, all sorts of player potential comes to mind, but Boot Hill was dreadfully thin in the development of actual characters.  You might have fun in a gun fight, or it might last one shot, but even then, the gun fights depicted weren’t very realistic (My brother is an expert as is a friend from the military, and both could explain in great detail how it wasn’t even close to real).   All I wanted was a framework to hang my hat on and make use of for the setting, and to create my own system for shooting.  But it was really bare bones.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sports team names, racism and media perception.

I'm going to be blunt. Why are non-pejorative sports team nicknames based on Native American themes racist? Protest groups go beyond the pejorative names to say that names like Braves, Chiefs, Indians and Warriors are derogatory to Native American peoples. The claim is made that using these names in conjunction with smiling caricatures like the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo is demeaning to these people. 

So isn't it hypocritical that these groups are represented by smiling Native American spokespeople who stand in front of these "offensive smiling caricatures?"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Growing your Brain

  I am not someone who believes that there needs to be an hierarchy of taste when it comes to enjoyment of what we read, watch, listen, and play.  If you like midget wrestling, or reading westerns, or watching The McLaughlin Group, more power to you.  I believe that the same reasoning goes for listening to Abba, watching Godzilla, playing Super Mario, or reading romance novels.

But, while I believe that you can like whatever you like, guilt free, short of snuff films, and evil behavior, I don’t think that is necessarily as important as what you watch says about you.  The average human spends more time changing channels on the television and considering the drive thru menu at Arby’s than contemplating the meaning of life.  That isn’t a criticism.  And of course, there is no way of measuring it that I can be certain, but, the truth is that most people prefer to avoid the deeper questions, and that is readily found in popular culture’s media.

So when you enjoy reading a book, you are making a statement.  If you read a romance novel, you are perhaps escaping.  Maybe you are heartbroken and need a lift, or maybe you love the fantasy of it.  Maybe you like reading science fiction or westerns.  Or maybe, you like reading Franz Kafka because he challenges your mind.  The same concept of escape, and genres extends to every other medium.   We can choose to grow in any form.

So, then, what am I suggesting?  I am not saying anything really big, except this… there have been studies that suggest anecdotally that learning new things, exposure to new ideas, new concepts keeps your brain active.  People learning new things and new concepts were less likely to suffer Alzheimer’s disease.  Since my mother suffered and died from that horrible disease, I’d like to think I have some place in telling you, that is a worthy cause to take up.

If you have played video games for 30 years, and you don’t want to play board games, fine.  Try a new genre of video game.  If you read only fiction, and only mysteries of the fiction sort, I suggest you either try a historical work solving a great mystery, or you try writing your own.  Do things that use different mental muscles.  I promise you that even if you decide that you don’t like it, the things you do like will still be there when you come back.

Personally I am changing one thing for a brief time.  I have been working or going through health treatments or being in hospital for the last two years.  I haven’t read for pleasure or watched movies in that time.  So I plan to do some lovely reading.