Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The sorry state of the Union

As the clock winds down on Bush's presidency, the United States undoubtedly will need to consider its options on how to carry on once he's left and who of all people would do it the best. The war in Iraq was a costly mistake, global warming is making waves (pun intended) across the political spectrum, and traditional values are the foci of concern. With these issues coming to a head as the spectre of Islamist-fuelled Armageddon looms, we have been wishing, hoping, and praying for someone to see us out without bumbling through.

What we got were rock stars.

Ladies and gentlemen of the United States: Those of you over the age of eighteen and registered to vote will unwittingly make a lot of choices when you cast your vote. Some, like myself, are wise enough to watch the news every so often and give thought to who the candidates really are. And I've realised that the lot we have offer little promise. Right now we have Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Rudolph Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and others hogging the limelight, at least four of whom have attained rock star status through either breaking the trend or just being too well known. Obama has only been a senator for two years, yet his status as an African-American* has people believing him to be the Saviour of the Democratic Party. Giuliani has been hailed a hero for his swift actions following 9/11. Clinton has kept a dizzyingly high profile ever since her husband was in the White House, and she would be the first female executive to run the United Sates if elected. Romney was known for mandating health insurance in Massachusetts. Thompson was an actor who played the role of an American president. Few are actually known for their credentials in government more than what the tabloids report.

Worst of all, many of the problems I see with this country seem to be gravely mishandled — government handouts (tax-and-spend liberalism in a nutshell), the Islamism situation in the Middle East, and personal responsibilities. Many of these problems politicians skirt around just to get a voting base or two. However, the public has realised that pandering to a voting base will solve nothing. In order to get these issues down, you need to use your head:

Government handouts

Had I posted, say, six months earlier, I would have cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. One of her plans is to give each child $5,000 plus interest to pay college tuition or perhaps a mortgage. However, I now realise that that money is just a lump sum; it's not going to be earmarked for anything, so it can be spent willy-nilly if desired. The same I say for a Labour Party initiative to give £200 to each pregnant woman in the hopes that she'll eat well: Even though she'll have to see an obstetrician to get the grant, the money's not going to be earmarked. This means that the beneficiary could just dip into the account and cash out for booze and drugs. For the full gist of this argument, I refer you to the Have Your Say page on the subject; to summarise, with the poor and undereducated having more and more kids and seeing sex as a form of recreation, what better way to get money to blow on drugs or an expensive television set than to get knocked up?

Right now, people in the US on low incomes but with large families can use food stamp cards** or, if they're pregnant or their child is under the age of five, WIC checks to cover the cost of food. As a supermarket cashier, I see first-hand the most common abuse of the food benefits system: Even though they're given cash in the hopes that it'll go toward food that's actually good for them, not only do recipients not keep track of how much they're getting before they reach the till, but they use their credits on junk food. Instead of buying fruits, bread, milk, cereals, or the other basics for cooking and preparing, they opt for sugary juices, candy, and chips, much of which is subject to tax in New Jersey because of their content.

Solution: The WIC programme is nearly scotch-free because of its strict regulations on what can be bought. Such restrictions should also apply to food stamps. As a start, any food that can be taxed for its sugar content or lack of nutrition, i.e. soda or sweets, should not be covered by food stamps. Then, you move on to anything with more than 1 gram of trans fat per serving, or foods with high levels of sodium or carbohydrates (excluding fiber). Either way, only healthy foods should be eligible; if the parents want to buy soda or Li'l Hugs for their kids, they should work for it. That way, not only do the kids start to realise what little nutrition such things have anyway, but you also advance your assault on obesity.


Conservatives love to point out that Islam isn't quite the loving and peaceful religion it's purported to be. Add to the mix the fact that most of said conservatives are Christian. The result is the notion that Islam is a spectre that needs to be vanquished in the name of Jesus Christ.

One thing is correct: Islam isn't exactly a peaceful religion — when the Qu'ran is taken to heart. But Christianity has been the same way — before World War I. From the inception of the Catholic Church to World War I, Europe was embroiled in religious warfare, and all partakers were Christian. The first wars — the Crusades — were fought for control of Jerusalem, as the Christians and Muslims had spiritual stake in the city. Eventually the Syrian sultan Saladin defeated a crusade led by King Richard, but he opened the city to Christian pilgrims.

Then came Martin Luther. As soon as he nailed the Ninety-Five Theses, Europe was up in arms, with the Catholic Church struggling to counter the newly-conceived Protestant movement. For hundreds of years, the struggle for ideological control of Europe would carry on. In fact, the United States was founded on principles that its founders learnt from the warfare in Europe: People needed their freedom of religion, press, speech, assembly, and redress, which no religious faction in Europe could offer. The whole point was to avoid religious and ideological oligarchy — a point many Christians in this country fail to realise as they champion those who champion 'traditional family values'.

The Middle East has been fraught with religious warfare long before Europe has — from the death of Muhammad's grandson. One group thought the next holy ruler had to be a direct descendant of Muhammad — the Shi'as. The other, the Sunnis, considered any righteous person eligible. They have been fighting ever since they split over whom should be the unifying force, trading blows to push what they believe is true Islam. This has only been aggravated with the discovery of oil, a commodity the West has pursued ever since the birth of the automobile.

It would eventually take two world wars and a Holocaust to slap Europe awake to realise that religious rule was not the answer.

Solution: The Middle East needs a World War of its own — and the West must stay out. First thing to do would be to finish up what we need to do in Iraq and withdraw our troops gradually. Then, we sit back and watch the sparks fly as the Muslims kill each other off in the name of the Qu'ran. Soon, once their populations have dwindled and their economies have been torn to bits, they'll come out like Europe.

'Family values'

Is the United States a 'Christian country'? Is it based on the 'family'? Those who feel sentimental would be quick to say yes to either question. Many groups, such as the Family Research Council, want a country to which 'traditional family values' are central; to do this, they say, a Biblical code should be implemented. The argument here is that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, suggested by the presence of terminology such as 'our Creator' and 'divine Providence' in the Declaration of Independence. It should be considered, though, that such language was the best to be had in the day; you didn't have science, and you needed some outlet for ideas. Even Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, was atheist; the truth was that the terms so lovingly cited by the Christian right were purely metaphorical.

As stated above, the whole idea behind the Constitution was to distance the country from religious oligarchy. The Christian government these conservative groups want so badly simply defeats the point of the nation's existence. If you're not convinced, examine the row in the Anglican Church over the consecration of gays. When the Episcopal Church, the American arm of the Anglican Church, consecrated the openly gay Gene Robinson, Anglican factions in Africa cried foul. Last year, members of the Church met in Tanzania and gave the Episcopal Church an ultimatum: Stop dealing with gays or get out. If that's not enough, imagine that you find in the Bible cause to treat gays as your equal and the country's laws prohibit homosexuality — you'll have a rough time gaining a following. Even the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints faces pressure, even after the Short Creek fiasco, because of their supposedly divine support of polygamy, counter to federal law still supported by the pro-family lot. The point is that running a Christian nation would only cause friction through the many denominations present in the country who claim that their way is the way to go.

The issue of family is, in effect, something that the government should have no business in. What defines the family is something that the people should decide on their own terms — it is not to be dictated by law. We all know by now that the 'family' the Family Research Council has in mind consists of a bundle of children raised in a household supported by a man married to one woman. This is a decent family — for those kind of Christians. However, you have homosexuals who, bereft of attraction to the opposite sex, miss out on the love said to be needed to keep a household together. These people would love to have their own children themselves, but at the same time they don't find a woman that appealing. Imagine the case of former New Jersey governor James McGreevey: He seemed to be this happily married family man, with a wife and kids. As soon as lover Golan Cipel threatened to expose him for his vapid appointment to the state's homeland security department, the house of cards collapsed, and Dina Matos McGreevey ended up demanding hefty amounts in alimony. McGreevey and Cipel have now entered a civil union, and I can bet that one of the things on their mind is raising a few kids of their own.

If you need a more convincing argument: China has a policy that requires that families have no more than one child. This has resulted in a severe disproportion of males over females, even after gender selection has been outlawed. If you abhor the government there taking control of families, why would you want it over here?

Solution: The answer to the two questions is no. For my full take on abortion and same-sex marriage, both of which I support, I refer you to my televangelism piece. The point is that the family is only what the ones involved make it out to be. Christians can raise their families as James Dobson recommends; that's their choice. They cannot, however, impose this on those who don't agree with Dobson or his so-called research council.

* Obama's father was Kenyan. When I say 'black', I refer to African-Americans who have American lineage going back to times of slavery.

** Electronic food stamps were introduced after paper food stamps found themselves on the black market, usually pawned or exchanged for drugs.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Given the many times I have tried to speak on the subject of my fights on the Internet — including the one with the Pokémon Community, you would have thought that I would have heeded the final words of Arcanine: ‘Get a life CW.’ This marked the last post I wrote before I wrote a message to Articuno Avianos to remove my account from PC through illegal access to the administrator control panel — I gave Lightning a copy of the PM, and I was banned for ‘instigating a severe hack threat’. This unceremonious expulsion, which followed six months of wrangling for my Other Voting Polls position back, led me to believe that I, in all respects, had just proven that I had no consideration for what others thought, and I have been wallowing ever since.

Little did I know....

The Composition lesson I had in college today involved an essay called 'Caring for your Introvert', written by a man who considers himself an introvert over the fact that he wishes to have his time alone. He wrote of introverts that ‘to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating’, and extroverts ‘are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone’. He also debunks popular speculation that introverts are arrogant, stating that ‘this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts’. In other words, an introvert would rather be alone for some time, but they are just as functional as extroverts in large social scenes, albeit for a shorter time.

Of all the criticism I have received on the home front and on the Internet, you would figure that my recoiling would be the result of introverted tendencies. I even thought this was so, inferring from my imbalanced attention to my own needs. I may be on the computer a lot — but I have WLM open whenever possible, ready to receive IMs at any moment, and I normally find myself on a message board. And I have said from time to time that I loved attending the youth summits in Rhode Island due to the fact that you’re almost invariably around other students, and talking to them even if you have absolutely nothing in common.

After reading Jonathan Rauch’s screed, I saw all this in a new light — I am an extrovert.

Here’s the truth, folks, and it took me a long time and a lot of pain to come to this conclusion. The fights I have had were not over a mod spot, although I can attribute my clinging to the post as a result of Asperger’s syndrome. Rather, it is the fact that the loss of the position, which is incalculably worsened by the ban, effectively cuts me off from the other members, and I’m reduced to hearing what others have to say only when they send me a message on WLM or post on their LiveJournal or Facebook blogs. Indeed, now that I’ve come to realise my status as an extrovert beleaguered by Asperger’s syndrome, I’ve seen the company of members as infinitely more valuable. Indeed, I’ve felt that just mentioning and making it clear that I was an ‘aspie’ — rather than suppressing the fact, dismissing it as a sympathy hook — could have saved the situation (yet as far as Andy personally goes, I doubt he’d have any sympathy, given his overall attitude — and possibly the fact that he was homeschooled and most likely sheltered from ‘wayward’ society).

I’ve had to grapple with this practically since I began attending school in Brigantine. It was sometime in elementary school when I realised that my intelligence amounted to admiration from others, including teachers themselves. I have said before that I would brag about how I could multiply and divide and the majority of the third-graders had yet to learn it — that in particular was successfully muted when, as challenge, my teacher handed me an advanced multiplication sheet and I cringed in fear, and then the following year when I turned up a ‘dismal’ C in the first grading quarter. I also remember memorising the names of the presidents of the United States, but bragging about it led to the current stops on the street from people who just want to use me as a walking almanac. I would also use big words — Roget’s Thesaurus put an end to that. While I’m sure it’s nature for kids my age to brag about things other kids don’t have, I’ve seen mine to be acquired other than material; one kid could brag that he had a PSP whereas I ‘just’ had a Nintendo DS, whilst I’d counter that he couldn’t name the book of the Bible from which he’d draw his conclusion that Adam and Eve spurned humankind*.

The intelligence thing, as can be inferred from the above, was invariably coupled with social crutching. I began to depend on the fact that I had a photographic memory and could list things for my social needs. In middle school you could see me hanging out outside kids’ homes around a basketball net, although I wasn’t necessarily inclined to partake in the sport; being smart and well-known was enough in their eyes to validate my attendance. I would eventually make the cut for a trivia team called Think Day, which eventually competed in a gym hall at a high school in Linwood, but I was too confident; we ended up in eighth place after I hijacked many of the questions (although the position was still respectable as there were thirty teams present, and, looking through school report cards later in my life, many of the questions asked would stump most students at higher levels of public education). Through the years, my grades would not be very exceptional; I even ran the risk of failure twice. Intelligence, I would later learn, did not equate to brains or responsibility; it was merely the ability to figure things out from the raw, and nothing more.

Then I learnt that I had Asperger’s syndrome.

Reading books on the disorder explained most, if not all, of what I needed to know — I was insanely intelligent, but responsibility and social skills were impedimenta. At first it didn’t seem to faze me in school, but it soon sent my perfect, delicately balanced world crashing down during high school. I met a student, who came to resent my intelligence, and I framed him for deletion of school files; we did not reconcile until graduation. I tried to go for the method of passing at minimum to save face until I met my physics teacher — who turned out to be my uncle; his class proved to be the hardest, and I credit my protection from a failing grade — and being the top student in his class the following quarter — to doing mountains of extra credit.

It was also in high school that I met the Internet. The first forum I joined, as you know, was PKMN.NET**. Being a rising SuperCheats.com star, I expected them to know who Cross Stinger was — but after snapping over a prank censorship of the word ‘Muuma’ and increased unwelcome involvement with staff affairs, I was forced to re-examine who I was. Even when I vowed to start anew at the Pokémon Community, I expected people to recognise me; they didn’t until Wikipedia got involved, and that, coupled with being promoted to moderator over those circumstances, brought me into the chaotic world of PC staff drama, which I lived off as someone still recovering from railing against Jeroen the previous year. In the end it was quarrelling over how the forums should be run and grumbling over my reduced seniority as moderator of Other Voting Polls — being invited to staff chats satisfied my social need but led to me feeling horrible once the chat finished, as I would be hard-pressed to mutter anything good and would eventually give Andy the impression that I was a stuck-up suck up who was rigidly against what Encyclopedia Dramatica would call ‘lulz’.

Whatever the case, I’ve seen this today as a warning that I would have to keep my mouth shut about how I was better in order to move on; in fact, I still think about the past and hold it tantamount to the present and future, as I believe that these three things shape the human psyche. I’m sure that had I refused to state unequivocally that Andy was right on the n00bs thing, I would have survived — yet at the same time I wonder whether ignoring the Wikipedia incident altogether would have made things a little easier. I’m sure that had I not spoken out against pairing and ‘families’, I would have had a lot more dignity engaging in it two months after I was given the mod job (which means Andy pulled the ‘paired up just to get modded’ assumption right out of his ass). The truth, ladies and gentlemen, is not necessarily that I should have just kept my mouth shut and been more consistent — I should have tried to look for the positives of families and pairing up, and probably left Kelsey alone as she genuinely had a relationship with Jorge.

And for all I have come to beforehand, I always feel as if I cannot bring myself to act upon these emotions. I hold the past in high regard, in an attempt to make myself clean. Why can I not just live with the errors I've made? The fact is that I do not have any incentive as of yet. More accurately, if a grudge I have is considered to be obsolete by most, I don't give up until an official announcement is made. That's why I have fought, while others hated it; that's why I placed great emphasis on forgiveness all these years.

I should have said this as soon as I set foot on the Internets — I have Asperger’s syndrome, and I am prone to explode if I feel alone or miserable. This is how I am. I might never change that.

* Observing as a Protestant growing up in a Catholic and Republican town, it's hard for any kid to say otherwise, unless they're Indian. I am not a creationist, and I respect the beliefs of those who are, but arguing over it on the street in front of the arcade when you're under 25 — actually, at any age — is just silly.

** I joined PKMN.NET on 7 July 2004. The SuperCheats forums did not come online until 31 August 2004.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Encyclopedia Dramatica

Link not safe for work.

I have a confession to make: While I have decided to venture into smilie territory, I will not use textspeak, and I'm not fond of using FAIL — as with any other Internet quip like 'r0xx0rz' or 'haX0r', unless I'm using them in a context that defames such users except in the case of Fark.com). As someone who has come to revile the evils of the Internet as far as attention and drama are concerned, one site that has come to my attention is Encyclopedia Dramatica, a compendium of Internet fandoms, quips, trends, and insanity. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the reason things like Schadenfreude and FAIL exist — to be preserved and consecrated in this little library.

I'll seize the opportunity to capitalise on those who are amazed to find that it rests on a wiki by noting the type of articles that are written as to emphasise the beauty of the lexicon they know. Rule 34 is quick to have raw porn, as does the entry for 'rape', and even the one for 'Pokémon'; it even has a longer screed on Chris Hansen ('Why don't you have a seat?') and Dateline: To Catch a Predator than Wikipedia can muster. The Guardian has even written an article about the tl;dr (too long; didn't read) entry, which, appropriately is filled with incoherently placed texts. True, a lot of it can be offensive, but when it comes down to it, the collection of quips and expressions this encyclopaedia has to offer leads people to decide whether it would be a good thing to have their own little trend immortalised there or a bad thing to have rude anecdotes made about you.

Of course, following a ban from the Pokémon Community, I end up being mentioned on its 'Pokecommunity' entry, which echoes the little Wikipedia tiff last year. No matter, the article might be thrown anyway given their policy regarding Exhibits A through D.

Friday, September 21, 2007


The following has been posted as part of the newsletter circulated by PokéZam:

I thought I'd begin this article with a Pokemon site closure that happened just a few days ago. PPN had been a major Pokemon website for over 5 years. It was best known for its frequently updated Pokemon news and for being a founding member of the Pokemon Community, one of the most active Pokemon forums on the Internet today. If you try to access PPN today you will get a message from the webmaster, Steve, stating that his website was shut down by Pokemon USA due to copyright infringement. This seems suspcious to me because Steve has always worked closely with Pokemon USA and didn't have anything such as ROMs on his website that would get him shut down. In a subsequent news post from TSS Killer, a news poster on PPN, Steve is claiming that his house was raided by the police with everything from his computers, Nintendo DS, and even posted notes taken. This seems like a bit much if he was just breaking copyright laws. It is fact that Steve is a registered sex offender in the state of California, which may have lead to his house being raided. Also, if you may recall, Steve disappeared for over 6 months last year with no explanation of his whereabouts. We will keep you informed as this news story develops. This is easily the most bizarre situation I have ever experienced as a Pokemon webmaster in the past 8 years.

Blimey. The sex offence claim surfaced back in March, when Kylie-chan posted a notice on PC alerting members to the fact that Steve was on the Megan's Law roster in California (the webmaster of Pokézam has since told me the listing had been removed in negotiations). But all the while, it seemed the PC admins were sweeping this all under the rug:

(9:59 AM) Informant: how old are *you*?
(9:59 AM) --: 19. ;;
(10:00 AM) Informant: You're a creepy paedophile
(10:00 AM) --: Like Steve.
(10:00 AM) Informant: Steve? The admin?
(10:00 AM) Informant: yeah XD
(10:00 AM) --: Yeah.
(10:01 AM) --: Did you see that webpage?
(10:01 AM) Informant: technically Joe's a paedophile too
(10:01 AM) Informant: no o_o
(10:01 AM) --: Oh.
(10:01 AM) --: So you don't know that Steve really -is- a paedophile?
(10:01 AM) Informant: No
(10:01 AM) Informant: OMG
(10:01 AM) Informant: I WANT LINKS
(10:01 AM) --: Kay, one sec. Gotta find it.
(10:02 AM) --: While you're waiting. Answer this question. Who's more awesome, me or Sassy?
(10:02 AM) Informant: Kelsey, she's a chick
(10:02 AM) Informant: Sorry XD
(10:02 AM) --: Thanks, I wanted that. XD
(10:03 AM) Informant: I know. XD
(10:03 AM) --: XD
(10:03 AM) Informant: But he really is a paedophile? DX Is this why Erica left? XD
(10:04 AM) --: No, they all knew for a while before she left.
(10:04 AM) Informant: Oh. ...Then why did they stay?
(10:04 AM) --: Because they loved PC I guess.
(10:05 AM) --: Found it.
(10:05 AM) Informant: This better not be some stupid prank. XD
(10:05 AM) --: [Defunct register listing]
(10:05 AM) --: It's not. XD
(10:06 AM) Informant: HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT'S STEVE?!?!?!?
(10:06 AM) --: Well, the name.
(10:06 AM) Informant: How'd you know his last name? XD
(10:06 AM) --: Pokesph
(10:06 AM) --: Stephen Patrick Heffron
(10:06 AM) Informant: OHHHHHHHH.
(10:06 AM) Informant: So you're 100% sure?
(10:07 AM) --: His birthday is the same.
(10:07 AM) Informant: O___O;;; all this time we were on a forum by a PAEDOPHILE. ew.
(10:07 AM) --: The age is the same.
(10:07 AM) Informant: He's older than my Mom.
(10:07 AM) Informant: O___O;
(10:07 AM) --: And, the conclusive evidence.
(10:07 AM) Informant: yeah, he got those kid's addresses didn't he?
(10:07 AM) Informant: kids'*
(10:07 AM) --: The zip code.
(10:07 AM) Informant: running those competitions and stuff o___o
(10:07 AM) Informant: Did Kwesi kick out Steve? And who found out this?
(10:07 AM) --: Yeah.
(10:08 AM) --: No, as far as I know, Kwesi always knew about it. And one of the higher staff, I forget who.
(10:08 AM) Informant: Does that make Kwesi an accomplice?
(10:08 AM) Informant: Uh... Bobby/
(10:08 AM) Informant: ?*
(10:10 AM) --: Don't think Kwesi is an accomplice. Unless he kidnapped the children for Steve.
(10:10 AM) --: Did you know Bobby is only 14?
(10:10 AM) Informant: No
(10:10 AM) --: He told everyone he was in his 20s.
(10:10 AM) Informant: I know O_O;;
(10:11 AM) --: But one day he confessed to Jorge to being 13.
(10:11 AM) Informant: Maybe Bobby literally was Steve's lapdog
(10:11 AM) --: Yeah, I know.
(10:11 AM) Informant: Uhhh... did that guy who ran VR know?
(10:11 AM) Informant: holy crap! I bet Steve got off to the picture thread O____O;
(10:11 AM) --: Casey? I dunno.
(10:12 AM) --: But, I PMed all the admins with that link and none of them replied to me. XD
(10:12 AM) Informant: Hm, maybe we should report PPN to that site, and they can look up the whois information, and if it's masked, they can get in contact with the host
(10:13 AM) --: Go for it. Because I have no idea what you just said..XD
(10:13 AM) Informant: Do any of the members know, by the way? XD Or is it just some huge staff scandal?
(10:13 AM) Informant: Well
(10:13 AM) --: No.
(10:13 AM) Informant: When you make a site, you have to give your contact details -- the valid ones -- to the webhost
(10:13 AM) Informant: And you can get them to fill up your whois with crap XD so no one can stalk you
(10:14 AM) --: Some of the staff decided that nobody outside of the higher staff knew about it.
(10:14 AM) Informant: you can look up any site, whois it, and find out their details, unless it's whoisguard'd, in which case you try to get in touch with their host if it's legal stuff
(10:14 AM) Informant: but isn't that technically wrong?
(10:14 AM) --: That's what I said.
(10:15 AM) Informant: Would parents want their kids on a site run by a molester?
(10:15 AM) Informant: Knowing he runs competitions and stuff?
(10:15 AM) --: People have a right to know if they're in contact with a convicted paedophile.
(10:15 AM) Informant: =/ It's wrong morally and probably legally.
(10:15 AM) Informant: I think someone should just troll post it.
(10:15 AM) Informant: ...Can I do it?
(10:15 AM) Informant: I don't give a shit about PC anymore. XD
(10:15 AM) --: Go wild.
(10:15 AM) --: XD
(10:15 AM) Informant: OMG, thank you --. I promise I won't blame you. XD
(10:16 AM) Informant: ...how many themes does Jake make a month?
(10:16 AM) --: Meh, they'll most likely know it came from me. I haven't exactly been keeping it a secret. XD Too many.
(10:16 AM) --: He has about four more in the works too.
(10:16 AM) Informant: including the theme contest? XD
(10:17 AM) --: No, these are just his own ones. XD
(10:17 AM) Informant: Oh. XDDD What happened to the theme contest? O_o;
(10:17 AM) Informant: did he ever bother finishing it/
(10:17 AM) Informant: ?*
(10:17 AM) --: I have no idea, I didn't even know there was one. XD
(10:18 AM) Informant: XDDDD People kept bitching to him to get it done. We ran a contest for members to submit images and stuff and Jake would code their layout. It probably never happened
(10:18 AM) --: Probably not, Jake gets lazy when it comes to doing themes that he hasn't created. XD
(10:18 AM) --: Ew, PC's new default theme is fugly.
(10:20 AM) Informant: is Jake still Mr. Power control guy?
(10:20 AM) --: No idea.
(10:20 AM) Informant: I'm so tempted to be a retard and title my threads J'accuse... eh, I should probably plan this for a more lulzy, full-out attack
(10:20 AM) Informant: I mean, is he still bossing everyone around? XD
(10:21 AM) --: Erm, I guess. XD
(10:22 AM) --: I don't think any of the staff on PC has really changed since I was first modded there way back when.
(10:22 AM) Informant: Awww. DX Except some got more annoying XD
(10:22 AM) --: Well, they all grate on you at some point. XD
(10:23 AM) Informant: XDDD Some never.
(10:23 AM) Informant: You, Kelsey, Karli, Jorfe... some others...
(10:23 AM) --: Aww.
(10:24 AM) Informant: come on, you lot are cool XD
(10:24 AM) Informant: Kaga never pissed me off either
(10:24 AM) Informant: god I miss him
(10:25 AM) --: I didn't know him. He came just as I left and he left before I came back.
(10:25 AM) --: I think he was just a myth.
(10:25 AM) Informant: no he wasn't
(10:25 AM) Informant: he was real xD
(10:25 AM) Informant: he rocked
(10:27 AM) --: What happened to him?
(10:27 AM) Informant: http://www.whois.net/whois_new.cgi?d=pokemonpalace&tld=net Aww crap, I don't think his whois is gonna help. He must have a dedicated server or something o_O I'unno, I'll ask

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tales from the Arcade IV: More smoking, with 100% more iPhone

Three days ago, I finally got a mobile phone — an iPhone, that is. It set me back $200 out of pocket ($600 altogether, excluding plan, but my parents paid for part of it), and for the money I'm really enjoying it. What I do most of the time is use the Safari browser or run the camera.

It was yesterday, though, when I decided to take it to the public. Many people were fascinated, some downright jealous, ever since I decided to just take it outside. And yes, some kid made a point of using it to attract the attention of girls in the group. It happened, yes, but this kid dramatised any effect of taking your iPhone out and allowing someone to test it. Tonight, it was one of the talks of the group forming outside the arcade — aside, of course, from smoking. This time around, nearly everyone had graduated from the cigarette to some brand of flavoured cigar — and this time, my chest tightened when I came near some of the smokers, and whenever they tried to release the ash it came off in hot cinders and clouds of smoke, instead of the normal issuing streams.

Those who have read the previous Tales from the Arcade pieces will know that smoking has been a problem at the arcade. Back then, not many people, I'll admit, smoked — today, though, I saw so many smoke that many I suspected otherwise were in on it as well. One kid now had eyes so red it seemed as if he had been badly beaten up. Eventually the smoking offended two girls from northern New Jersey, and once they turned to avoid someone's explosion of ashes on the pavement, they all puffed away from them.

After my stomach began to tighten and the kids started moving to the convenience store to watch a fight, I just went home and took a shower. While Brigantine has had its share of druggies and chavs, it never occurred to me until tonight how common it was in this day and age, and how it's hardened into a social foundation. I have never smoked — I owe that to scary commercials and my participation at youth summits — and having to smell my acquaintances smoking irks me somewhat. I probably have less respect for under-age smokers — or smokers on the whole — than televangelists; anyone who engages in an act to undermine their lifespan in the name of acquaintance has little merit (no pun intended) in my book.

I wish I were Neal Boortz. He can criticise smokers on his show and feel good about it. Although I don't think it's always the case that it's the 'second time her prom dress has come off' if she's smoked during prom, but it makes a lot of sense.

Monday, July 23, 2007

God loves you, so send your money in today

I dislike televangelists. Rather, I dislike the picture of the Christian right they paint: a swath of people who believe the human is superior to other species due to their allegiance to a deity and their adherence to a set of texts sent down from said deity.

Now, don't get me wrong here: I have respect for all people of any religion in name. Further, half of my family are evangelical, and I love them very much and appreciate what they do for me. However, I believe that if someone decides to follow a man — or woman — on television because of their supposed representation of God, they end up worshipping the man representing God, not God. These representatives include Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, and Tim LaHaye (and did include Jerry Falwell and Tammy Faye Messner), who all have started as people with faith but turned into veritable megalomaniacs, many of them amassing huge fortunes as a result of running huge ministries or even television stations. While I do not approve of the practices leading up to this, as I will explain later, it should be considered that the message they at first tried to put out was indeed of good faith, yet power and fame simply corrupted them.

Evangelism as a media genre can be put back arguably as far as Charles Coughlin's radio programme, broadcast in the days of Franklin Roosevelt, in which he angered several religious audiences with anti-Semitic comments until, after World War II and failed attempts by the government to control him, a Detroit priest ordered him off the air. The first time money became involved, though, may have been a plea from Pat Robertson to keep his television station at the time, WYAH-TV, which resulted in a telethon that still continues today on its successor — the Christian Broadcasting Network — and many other religious stations, first starting with $10 donations from a benchmark of 700 donors a month (hence the name of the flagship programme, The 700 Club). The telethon, which was enough to keep the station afloat, pales in comparison to the telethons still held on Trinity Broadcasting Network's Praise the Lord programme. TBN, in effect, was formed when Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker broke with CBN, but they eventually left TBN alone and started the PTL network, which would soon become infamous for the failure of a Christian theme park, the imprisonment of Jim Bakker for tax evasion, and his affair with a secretary that he tried to settle with $250,000.

TBN, under the direction of Paul and Jan Crouch, has become probably the largest religious television network in the nation, with revenues upward of $150 million annually. However, much of the money any such network seems to make goes toward the luxurious lifestyle of the hosts. Indeed, according to Business 2.0's Dumbest Moments in Business History, Bakker had diverted more than $3.7 million in revenue for personal issues, including an air-conditioned doghouse. Whatever the money is specifically used for, the fact that the bulk of it comes out of the pockets of viewers as 'donations' is unsettling in the least. Rather than live out as a pay-per-view programme offered with, say, DirecTV, people have to donate to the station. In theory, donating is good — but what if, Chris Hedges asked in his book, American Fascists, you start demanding $1000 or more at a time? You claim that 'you are robbing God', and that 'it is Your show, Your airwaves'. To me, that sounds much like extortion, seeing as no deity like the one they claim to represent would actually need money. Much of money inevitably goes to Crouch or whomever is running the station, and to see them spend an excessive amount of money on a jet plane and several mansions, not to mention cosmetic surgery — rather than give some money to actual charities and keep a modest sum — is nothing short of incensing, and even more so when you back up such opulence as a 'gift from God' for running a ministry.

If money is enough to incense me, I can't bear to think of how awful it is to couple it with the constant purporting that God wants the financial best for His followers. On a Detroit News article that is no longer online, a church pastor evidently got to write off a mansion as a donation from members of his church, which subscribed to the 'Gospel of Wealth', a system of Christian beliefs that come to the conclusion that God wants followers to be as wealthy as possible. There's a little problem with that, however:

And as he was going forth into the way, there ran one to him, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good save one, even God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor thy father and mother. And he said unto him, Teacher, all these things have I observed from my youth. And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. But his countenance fell at the saying, and he went away sorrowful: for he was one that had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:17-25 ASV)

It seems as if Jesus didn't see wealth as necessarily a qualification for getting into heaven; rather, it seems as if he wanted the rich man to be generous to the poor as he certainly had the resources to do so. While it is true that the religious right does tend to give more to charity than liberals and the secular (even when donations to organisations such as TBN are factored out), there are some who, despite the great trend, believe that an expanse of wealth and power is acceptable by God regardless of where it goes. The Gospel of Wealth, therefore, probably isn't a very good interpretation of what should be done on the part of Christians.

Even more harrowing is the thought of not wealth alone, but power — over the government. We see it today, with states passing laws forbidding same-sex couples from marrying, apparently in the light of a Massachusetts ruling that allowed them to do so. Last year, South Dakota even tempted Roe v Wade by banning abortion altogether except in cases in which the mother's life was at risk, even disallowing exceptions for rape and incest. It's unfathomable to me how this could have been the result of a bloc bred on the teachings of pastors in the media — we have the Moral Majority, founded by Jerry Falwell in the hopes of creating a voting base of people opposed to specific or implied actions prohibited in the pages of the Bible. The resulting voting base took credit for putting Ronald Reagan in power, and they almost certainly helped both Bushes enter office. The latter Bush, turned to when America was attacked on 11 September 2001, turned out to be one to cause mayhem in the moral sphere — not to mention Iraq — based on his evangelical beliefs, egged on by religious Republicans and arguably the forces of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Indeed, the latter was featured on The 700 Club two days after the attacks to give his analysis (click the video link below the picture of his face) of what caused it — and it had nothing to do with militant Arab fundamentalists:

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularise America — I point the finger in their face and say, you helped this happen.

Eventually Robertson, who said 'Well, I totally concur', recanted. All the same, the attack was caused by militant Arab fundamentalists — and it seems to me that remarks like this could have been the very fuel needed for such an attack. When it gets down to it, these fundamentalists and these beacons of the Christian right are quite the same in their steadfast intolerance for even other religions. That's what the whole mess in the Middle East is over, after all.

While we're on the subject of gays and abortionists, I might as well say what I believe. People like Falwell will use a prohibition in Leviticus as well as Paul's letter to the Romans* to justify such inconvenience to gays. That's fine to me — but it's not fine when rigid interpretations make their way into the government of a free society. The decision that homosexuality is a sin is in the moral sphere, something a straight or gay person alike might see as a hindrance or a sign of weakness. But marriage is a different issue, one that carries legal consequence. I believe that the government has no responsibility to rule on strictly moral affairs as homosexuality when it occurs in the bedroom; as such, denying a couple a legal right based on an individual, moral interpretation is downright wrong. Although marriage has always been sacrosanct in many religions, even as the union of one man and one woman, I do not see this having much validity when applied to legal statutes that apply to all people regardless of their sexual orientation — if marriage is a legal term, I say let same-sex couples marry.

As such, I am adamantly pro-choice. I realise there are many couples who want to have a child and place a value on the foetus any woman is carrying, but this doesn't necessarily apply to them since they want the child. There are some out there who are brave enough to pull through with raising a child even if they were raped — this is not for them, either. The issue here really covers those who have sex as a form of recreation or trust, even outside marriage. On one hand you have the girl who was raped or was a victim of sexual abuse within the family, and on the other you have the girl who had sex with her boyfriend in which no condom was used or the condom or any other device failed. The latter case I do find a little immoral, but it happens either because of indifference to the situation or as a token of trust. In either case, if a pregnancy arises, it's ultimately the woman's decision whether to go on with the pregnancy and raise the child, or abort it. A pregnancy at a young age, while possible in older times, is made much more difficult by college and the possibility of a career (not to mention the scant availability of sitters). Indeed, in Steven Levitt's Freakonomics, the point is made that a child arising from an unwanted pregnancy and not given up for adoption most likely will grow up bearing the scars of his or her mother's resentment and turn to crime. Indeed, Levitt was criticised across the board when the point was made clear that legalised abortion was a major factor in the fall of crime in the 1990s despite apocalyptic predictions for the decade. I think the fact that a pregnancy forced upon by a moral interpretation of a foetus as a separate life — when it's not even counted in population and mortality records — will likely result in the child being raised in an environment conducive to resent and criminal behaviour is enough for me to say a woman should have the right to abort at any stage of pregnancy. Even if it is a little gross.

One of the people I met at the conference over last weekend was pressured into sex four times by a former boyfriend. At the conference, a boy she liked (I'm sketching here) rejected her because of her belief that she should have the right to abort should she find herself incapable of raising a child. She cried for a few minutes before her friend, a staff member, and I gathered around and dried the tears before resuming the water play.

Now, my aunt and uncle donate to CBN, and I have watched two episodes of The 700 Club at their house. The objective of the show, I will repeat, is to uplift viewers with miracles in others' lives, but when they begin political rhetoric — such as the talk on gays and abortion — things get ugly. I just hope there'll be someone who comes along and actually gives a decent ministry without forcing literal interpretations of the Bible on viewers. After all, humans did write the book — from their perception of the world, albeit with insight as to how God wanted the world to run — and humans are interpreting it.

* The last two paragraphs of the first chapter of Romans are a polemic on 'unnatural relations' leading to other sorts of sin, an allusion to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in the book of Genesis. We'll assume for a second that the Bible is true: While the documentation of a gang of men wanting to draw other men out for forced sex has led literalistic Christians to say that homosexuality led to the collapse of Sodom, I believe that a collection of graver sins, or perhaps even the simple fact that these men just wanted to force sex on other men to exact misery, but not because of individual orientation, could have led God to supposedly destroy the city. Also, the Archbishop of Canterbury recently issued a statement accusing such Christians of ignoring what Paul wrote at the beginning of the second chapter, immediately after his polemic, invalidating man's right to judge others based on their sins due to this situation.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Obligatory Youth to Youth update

Six youth summits. Four Youth to Youth summits. You would have thought that I would have become a moderator at one as I eventually gained — and lost — such respect at the Pokémon Community and other sites. This time, you're right: All through this conference, people have asked me to enlist in the conference administration. Apparently I can go straight in and then do Adult Staff duty the following year, or so they tell me. That I'll have to check on in March, when they say applications are going out.

This year, so much has happened that I now have to break it into segments. Unfortunately, there are no pictures; I didn't remember the camera. If you're new to this blog and are a little confused, you may want to read the accounts of 2006 and 2005.

Day one: Fe fi fo fum, we're kicking I-95's bum

On Thursday, I had to be up at 4.00am and hail a taxi since my parents couldn't wake up. A few kids — the ones I normally went with had gone to Costa Rica earlier in the month — were in the van, and the father of one of them was driving as the pastor had to be present for a summer bazaar. The father turned out to be very critical of New Jersey as far as laws go, and he was like me in the mind that more roads were needed if the Garden State Parkway was clogged up at 7.00am (although much of it was due to an accident in which the police cut traffic off to push a car across the carriageway). We managed to get to campus at 11.00am, an hour ahead of registration, and when the rush finally came I made sure to be one of the first to register for courses — a writing course, a class about foreign students trying to learn the native language, and a workshop on Internet safety.

This year was the twenty-fifth anniversary of Youth to Youth's operations, so the theme this time around was 'I Love The 80s', meaning that the opening ceremony would often be interrupted (as scripted) by Melissa, who was reprising her role in the Youth Staff, with blurbs about what happened in the year — 1982 — that Youth to Youth came into being. Once that finished, we had a small session in the Rotunda of Bryant University in which we tried to identify whose picture was posted on one of the huge screens (I was in the flicking roster but it never stopped on me).

Then came the first family group session. Once again, I was in Family Group 9, and I had the same Adult Staff representative. The group was also led by Ashley (whom I recognised as the one who did slam poetry the previous year) and included a military man who had been sent to evaluate the programme by some sort of youth agency, a girl who aspired to be a model, a Nigerian girl who taught us our little buzzword 'Amonge' (an Ibo greeting) and whom I believe also wanted to be a model, a guy born in Japan to Sri Lankan parents who was advised against flirting, and four others. We didn't play as many games as before, rather discussing the events that passed as well as our lives, yet when we did, it would be Indian Chief, Mafia, and two attempts at Ha, the first being in a circle when some objected to being laid down on during the first session and the second — producing worse success at going down the line — being held on the final day.

Then dinner came. While I admit I've been eating less these days, I helped myself to decently-sized meals all through the conference. I also was approached by a few people in Adult Staff to recommend applying for Administrative Staff, or the 'A-Team'. It turned out that in order to be on Adult Staff, I would either have to return once as an adult plebeian or go to the administrative level. (I heard a variety of stories, some saying I could join Adult Staff right away.) When the day comes — sometime in March, they tell me — I'll find the application to do so; I'm also guessing that it'll require driving.

As lunch was going on, so did some old favourite round games such as Ride That Pony. There was another game, Jigaloo, which I finally figured out: You stand in a circle and shake and clap, singing 'Jig-a-looo, jig-jig-a-loooo, hey [name]!' before the person they call from the circle steps forward and creates a jive for the others to repeat before the process starts over. Now, I had thought for a while that it would be silly of me to join such games, but the following presentation, led by Bill Cordes, challenged that. He came on-stage with an easel on which an arrangement of letters, YOGOWYPI, was written. He told the conference that it stood for 'You Only Get Out What You Put In' before leading them in a gibberish chant, which I came to realise meant that anyone not joining the mass in following obviously wasn't putting in what they expected to enjoy in it (I'll have more on that later):

Fe, fe fi, fe fi fo, fe fi fo fum! Kumalacha kumalacha kumala vista, no no no nacho vista, vista, vista! Isalini disalini oo ah ah malini acha kacha acha lacha oo ah ah....

Then, there was 'The Big Show'. Instead of it being a talent show, it was a game show that involved the whole congregation: We started by filling out and submitting a quiz with eight questions, and the one who got the most right won an iPod and those whose sheets were drawn before got conference memorabilia (I got another pouch). Eventually one was called up to face the presenter in a 'Let's Make a Deal' session: He offered her a box or five one-dollar banknotes. The audience at first urged her to choose the box, yet as the number of banknotes increased, she leant toward the banknotes — and ultimately accepted them over the box, which turned out to have a dollar's worth of pennies.

At the end of the day, we all returned to one dormitory hall. Since construction was taking place and some of the dorms were out of commission, we all had to take up residence in one hall, the boys on the lower two floors and girls on the upper floors. I ended up with the very same room as last year, yet my room-mate was an East Greenwich envoy (the vast majority this year were East Greenwich envoys; none lived outside the north-eastern Untied States and Bermuda).

Day two: Lost in numbers

With the morning came the next speaker, David Mahan, who had not much more to say than his experiences as a young father and a screed on how abstinence was the only sure way to keep oneself clean of any infection or pregnancy (I'll have more on what I think when I write my piece on televangelists tomorrow — I just heard tonight that Tammy Faye has copped it) as a result of what he went through with having a baby and scraping to get by. Once that finished, we went off to the athletic centre for the team-building games, in which we had to rotate around stations that put us in a game of Hot Potato, cryptograms, and bridge walk in a theme similar to that of Survivor. The one I didn't like much was the cryptogram: We were handed a novel and were told to decipher a code using sequences that relied on a page number, line number, and letter. The codes, which were touted as escape codes, turned out to be Youth to Youth operation numbers, disheartening when the trouble people went through to understand the instructions was accounted for.

Then, we had lunch, a Family Group session, and our workshops. The first workshop I attended was 'A Day in the Life of an ESL Student', led by a staff member who himself had for a while struggled with language after moving in. He led the class off with sheets numbered by level of language mastery; those with the number 1 were written entirely in Spanish, and the amount of English increased as the number went up. The workshop ended wit lists of suggestions to accommodate those arriving from other countries with little or no English. The second, 'The Write Stuff', was initially a course in writing when other people tell you what to include, having us write any sort of work as she announced words for us to include in the order in which she announced them. Soon, though, it became a session in which we gathered in a circle and one or two people would come in and act out a scenario, and one in the circle would yell 'Freeze!' if he or she had an idea of a scenario that fit the positions the people inside were in, causing them to hold their positions and leave if the person who called tapped them out and assumed their position before continuing. Soon enough, we were all doubled over in laughter; one they found more hilarious was my intervention on a parent discipling an emotional child to turn it into me being a healer and the other girl confessing her 'sins'.

Then we had dinner, and the Youth Staff had a presentation that did away with projector idents that gave a glimpse of what the skit would cover and, rather, had staff members come out with flash cards with years written on them. The funniest of them all was a director's cut scene, in which a director had to do two takes on a scene in which a sister found her brother to be a drug addict and near death, whereupon she called her mother, who then hailed an ambulance. Two takes, one with pouting on the part on all cast members and another in which crying was induced, passed before the director announced that there were two many emotions to describe the disaster of such news.

Once that and another group session cleared, we went out to the athletic centre for racing games, food, and a movie. The pool was closed this year, so there went my chances to clean my toe up. The time would be spent with a girl I met during the writing workshop and her boyfriend, both from Connecticut and coming to conference for the first time.

Days three and four: Water and tears

Since the day began with a youth action planning session, I feel obligated to explain the group I came with and have been a part of for four years or so. We are a church group, responsible for many events occurring on the island for the enjoyment of kids and teenagers and for the benefit of the church. However, the group has been falling into disrepair; some of the senior members have ended up smoking, drinking, and causing other mayhem; indeed, as I stated in the 2005 report, one had been caught with marijuana at the conference. As Mike, the member of our youth group who was working as a Youth Staff member, explained in the morning, the previous leaders had been lenient on the other members, requiring that no drugs be done 'at the meetings'. Since laws prohibited it anyway, this had no effect. Mike decided, along with the rowdy bunch we came up with, that a drug-free style outside meetings would be compulsory. However, he warned of opposition from the girls who didn't come because of their involvement in the Costa Rica trip — indeed, according to him, many of them had been caught drinking vodka on the trip. The discussion dragged on into the following morning's discussion session, and we finally agreed on a bill to be voted on at the next meeting.

Back to day three. Once the planning session finished, we returned to the auditorium for another speaker, Harriet Turk. She led off with a story of a cashier who at first refused to talk to her until she gave her an ultimatum: stay put until a word was said. The next day, she came back, and the cashier announced to the whole store what was being rung up. As it turned out, this girl had a problem with the job and her social life that reflected in how she went about work. This led her to introduce a chant — one she would transmit to her daughter whenever she was out — that was supposed to make us assure ourselves that our social situation was within reach of rectification.

Lunch passed, and we had our third workshops. I attended a seminar on Internet safety, in which the officers led off with a few videos, one in which a kid fell off his bike down a concrete stairwell. The message, he said, was that anything could float around on the Internet. Indeed, he showed us a few things about social networking sites and friends on the Internet that shocked me. The first was a MySpace page of a person who legally possessed marijuana but ended up sharing it with teens he met through the page; the second was a story of a kid whose parents were technologically literate but was depressed much of the time, turning to the Internet for comfort before a 'friend' turned on him a week before he committed suicide.

Then, we headed back to the athletic centre for a round of water fights. I was not involved in any of the games in particular, yet I did often hang around people who ended up getting splashed in many places. One of the staff did eventually toss water at me, although it quickly cleared up. Yet I would have another source of water to worry about soon enough: tears. During the games, I chose to tail a pack of students from the snow cone machine. They all eventually were drenched as I followed them, but soon enough, one girl began to cry over a guy rejecting her based on an abortion belief (again, look for my televangelism piece tomorrow). Eventually one of her friends, a staff member, and I cheered her up, and all was bright and rosy again.

We cleaned off, had dinner, and we had the dance. Like last time, the dance was being held in the Rotunda rather than the park, but this was as planned (perhaps since there had been thunderstorms in the area as of recent). Yes, I did have a map or two, but this time, I would not — by my own choice! — be working on it whilst everyone else was having a good time. Time would be spent alongside two staff members, one of whom had, like me, obtained a great deal of college credits in her senior year. (This person I did eventually give a few old maps to.) I ended up dancing with them, and I enjoyed it. I'm not sure if it's due to a crush — if this were the case, it occurred really, really late this year — but when I was around these people or even on the floor, nothing seemed to matter other than how I looked to the people I was actually dancing with. (I might write a little more on that.)

On the final day, the family groups organised and we had a mass picnic outside the athletic centre. Then, we went into our room and made an attempt at Ha, which collapsed as people just couldn't stop giggling. The closing ceremonies followed, in which we were all given fortune cookies to crack at the same time, and I was actually able to get AIM contact lists for once!

So, youth staff?

Yes, administrative staff. Everyone has been telling me to apply, and it's time I gave back to the programme after feeding off it for four years. I can't wait until March.

Nobody tell James.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Web 2.0

The following has been taken from Talesblog with permission. Copyright © Chris Chan.

Web 2.0“. It’s the latest internet buzzword. However, I’m liking the term less and less the more I hear it. This is due to some different things- the Web 2.0 concept is evolutionary not revolutionary, the general “2.0″ stigma, and the nauseating ubiquity of the “Web 2.0″ term. However, I still like the Web 2.0 concept, if not the term.

The Web 2.0 concept isn’t as revolutionary as people make it out to be. User-generated content has been around in some form or another for over a decade - just look at the state of Geocities or Angelfire in 1996 or so. Now Myspace is fast becoming the next Geocities: background music and horribly annoying layouts. (By the way, Xinruilian’s website needs to lose the front page flash and background music. It’s very unprofessional. But that’s for another blog entry.) Anyway, it’s just now that user-generated content is expanding into different forms of media, like video on Youtube. I would say that that’s just natural evolution, rather than some big revolution to be heralded as an entirely different major version number, 2.0.

Speaking of “2.0″, there’s a certain stigma associated with that version number. Take for example Microsoft Windows 2.0. While I have never personally had the misfortune of using that version, I’ve read that it’s horribly buggy, and that the first version of Windows that was actually worth using was Windows 3.11. (Personally, I think the only version of Windows worth using is Windows 2000. It’s relatively stable, and not bloated to the extreme.) Take as another example Firefox 2.0. While I personally prefer it over Fx1.5 because of the integrated spellchecker and other features, others regard it as unnecessarily bloated and unstable. Shiira 2.0 is another “2.0″ browser, one that is actually very buggy and unstable. (It’s for Mac OS X.) The last example is the Texas Instruments TI-34 II calculator. While this isn’t a “2.0″ product per se, it’s still got a horrible user interface. It hides the sine, cosine, and tangent functions under a series of menus, and those are some of the most frequently used keys.

My third point of contention with the “Web 2.0″ term is its nauseating ubiquity. It has over 187 million Google results, and that’s even when it’s in quotes. I can’t even tell you how many times the term has appeared in my IRC logs. I could grep it, but my server would explode from the memory overload. I’m a penniless student, so I wouldn’t have any money to replace it. Suffice it to say that I become nauseated at the first mention of it in any IRC channel.

All this dislike of the term “Web 2.0″ should of course not be misconstrued as my dislike of the underlying concepts, like user-generated content and web applications. Webapps enable more efficient use of the browser; Gmail and Meebo rock my socks. User-generated content is fast re-democratising the internet and taking absolute power from the big content providers. Social networking, as on Myspace and Facebook, connects me with old friends and enables me to make new ones. “Web 2.0″ concepts improve the internet continuously, but I need to see a lot less use of the term.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

LJ talks

The following message appeared today on the home page of LiveJournal concerning the dispute:

Hello again.

I want to update you on the status of correcting the issues that occurred earlier this week:

First, all journals and communities that were suspended that did not clearly violate community policies have been restored. Over the weekend and into the next couple of weeks we will be doing the following:

  1. We will contact each user whose journal was both suspended and then restored to explain how they were swept up in this and to work with them to avoid further difficulties. We expect that effort to start Monday and take several days.
  2. We will be compiling and reviewing the input we have received as comments, voicemails and faxes, that made suggestions about how we could improve our policies and procedures.
  3. Using this input as well as input from outside groups, such as the EFF, we will review and possibly redefine some of our policies.
  4. Then we will review the procedures we use to implement our policies and the standard communications we use in the implementation of those policies.
  5. We will also review all of our abuse procedures and standard communications to users to see if we can do a better job in dealing with abuse issues.

We’ve been getting your calls and faxes, reading comments and posts. While we can’t answer each one individually, we do hear you and your input will be taken into account during this process. Will everyone be happy? No. Do I think we can end up with better guidelines, procedures and processes? Yes.

As I said before, we have a lot of work to do. We are trying hard to keep LJ a community where free speech and the protection of children and victims and others can coexist. We appreciate your input in this process.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

OMGZ u kuld gt rapd on myspace

There are times when I believe somebody's got to shoulder the blame for a scourge happening. A case like that would be the current furore struck up by civilians and fire-fighters dying of lung infections brought on by the dust clouds from the falling World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001 — the city has to give them some sort of compensation since there was too little to do since the attacks were so sudden. In other cases, particularly those arising on the Internet, I pity the many sites, such as Match.com and MySpace, who have come under fire due to the plethora of stories of women being raped and killed — underage girls in the latter case.

Many of you who still have MySpace accounts may have taken notice to the new practice of barring adults from contacting kids using the service. This is testament that this whole kerfuffle over social networking sites being responsible for the welfare of underage end users has finally reached the point where things have to be sacrificed in order to remain sheltered from the legal firestorm. In the spring of 2006, a 14-year-old user and her mother, afresh from a date with a 19-year-old — who claimed to be a high school senior with a football record — that ended in rape, sued the News Corporation for neglecting such a danger while running MySpace. Now, like any other social networking site, it voluntarily posted a set of guidelines for young users concerning how to keep themselves safe on the Internet, but for this girl, the site needed an active cushion. While MySpace had for a running period of time been the venue for several encounters that led to assaults, this was the first time the unthinkable happened — someone was suing the site! What's more, News Corp jumped in its shoes and turned the spigot of communication reform.

While it is rather noble of a site like MySpace, which has been no stranger to the ills of its service, to implement cautionary measures, there simply are too many problems for them to handle. Firstly, at time of writing, there is no credit-card or other parental validation since the site meets COPPA with a registration age minimum of 14. Secondly, there is no viable way of making sure the pervs don't join; it's not like booking a reservation at the counter complete with tête-à-tête communication between the customer and clerk, and there exists no database capable of extorting the aliases of sex offenders every second of every minute. Tech buffs like me have been aware of this for ages; a web site cannot perfectly verify anyone and there will always be a lot of room for error.

MySpace is nothing more than a web service. It is not a day-care centre; it is not a parent. To its users it seems to be just like a game on OneMoreLevel or even one of the Math Blaster games, where there is little interaction that equates to human communication. The most that can be done to intervene is to instruct users on how to use the site, even setting up an account if need be. When you suspect a message to contain a virus, don't open the attachment; ergo, if you think somebody's trying to impress you so much as to get credentials needed to contact you in real life, you should think it over and decide whether it's worth the risk. This is why I believe your best friend is a webcam, especially if both ends are using it; you know exactly with whom you're communicating and you have body language available to you.

If MySpace had openly solicited sex offenders, it would be in a violation tantamount to the actual assaults; however, it is merely a web service, and it should not have any responsibility for what happens off the site unless they directly sponsor it. The meeting referenced above was arranged by the girl and the boy on their own terms, independent from anything MySpace specifically set down, so MySpace technically is not responsible; and had the case made it to, say, the Supreme Court, MySpace would have won, and we'd have had another resolution indemnifying such sites just as McDonald's was indemnified for obesity.

By now you might have clicked the link and realised that it led to a LiveJournal picket rather than the ubiquitous news story of someone meeting a man on MySpace and being assaulted. As is MySpace, LiveJournal is a web service, and what it can do in order to promote a good environment is essentially the same as moderating a forum. While discussion of illegal activity in general is something that can't be punished, a journal dedicated to the promotion of such is a totally different matter, and there are laws prohibiting the service from knowingly playing host. Here, the user roaring has rallied users to protest SixApart's surprise practice of removing journals and communities that have to do with paedophilia or pornography, among many illegal intents. The cited yaoi_smut_fics community apparently spawned after two deletions based on the fact that it, well, housed gay porn fics! Also cited was the following comment:

It's not that I don't care about anyone or anything. It's just that I'm too lazy to care. I don't mean anyone any harm and I sincerely hope everyone in the world leads a great life but I really don't want to do anything to help them have a great life.

There is a 13 year old girl who lives a few houses down. I want to [expletive] her and [elaboration removed for taste, as the intent is pretty clear from the start]. I'm 18 years older than her and I'm a woman.

The comment was reported, but LiveJournal's service team stated that such comments were nothing they had a hold of — although in the interest of taste it should have been removed — or even at that, who the hell unscreened that comment?

We understand and agree that this is very disturbing, we cannot take action against a user for admitting that they have committed illegal activities or are thinking about committing illegal activities. It is not illegal to discuss illegal actions. We can only take action if the user is actively encouraging others to commit such actions, or if they are soliciting or providing information on how to do so. Because this is not the case here, we regret that we cannot take action.
The protest's prosecution is a default removal notice sent to a friend:

Your journal and/or its associated profile or interests has been reported to us as containing material which expresses interest in, solicits, or encourages illegal activity. As this is a violation of both LiveJournal's Terms of Service and United States law, we have permanently suspended the journal.
If you read carefully, though, you will notice that the said notice was delivered based on an offence created by the entire journal, not by two or three comments; a judgement otherwise would be egregious. While the comment should not have appeared, and I assume SixApart wants such decisions to rest with the journal or community on which it appears, you just can't deny that posting porn on a public venue isn't a great idea.

This, however, is where the difference between profiles and comments comes in when it comes to moderation. LiveJournal, of course, is a blogging site. While MySpace and LiveJournal both have an obligation to remove porn and they both cannot be indicted for actions taken off the site, the reason LiveJournal has ignored the comment — and the reason MySpace would do the same — is probably because such territory is that of the one running the profile or blog, and it's the fault of whomever unscreened it if it remains on the page.

In any case, if something bad is posted as a comment, or if a date set up on a social networking site goes awry, the ones involved have no-one to blame but themselves. I'll say it again: MySpace is not your day-care, and LiveJournal can only care more about the blogs it's hosting more than the comments. After all, not everyone with a balanced mind would have responded to the aforementioned comment the same way.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

GTS <3

Yes, that's a heart emoticon. Blame Memory.

Those of you with Diamond and Pearl are probably aware of the Global trading Station in Jubilife City. This facility, which operates through Nintendo WiFi Connection, allows you to put up your Pokémon for barter with anyone around the world. Theoretically you could have no-one around you and you could get a Pokémon badly needed for Pokédex completion or your party. While the GTS allows you to search within your Pokédex only, it's otherwise fun to put your Pokémon up or see what others want for theirs.

For me, I also like looking at locations on that massive globe. You can register your permanent location there to see where all of your Pokémon come from, and if you're like me you'll want to rack up as many locations as possible.

I first paid attention when a thread appeared on SuperCheats concerning people using Action Replay to obtain Pokémon and quickly put them up for a cheap deal. While this is possible, the really funny part is actually examining the offers: When I was looking for a Dialga, some had it at around level 70 but wanted a level 100 one in return, a complete paradox. Then again, a lot of the requests I'd seen made sense considering I grew up in an environment in which legendary Pokémon were always a precious commodity. While I was screwed as far as searching went, I could simply put a Pokémon on offer and wait a few minutes for a response. I was thus far able to trade:

  • A level 52 Whiscash, fresh from the wild, for a Spiritomb — which came from Japan at level 1 (newly hatched) and infected with Pokérus
  • A level 63 Altaria for a level 26 Milotic from New York
  • A level 7 Jirachi for a level 70 Rayquaza from Pennsylvania
  • A level 52 Hippowdon for a level 46 Torterra from Michigan
So I decided: Why not wheel and deal? Dig up a Pokémon, trade it, put the received Pokémon back on offer for something I really needed. I think I'm going to have some more fun than just training.

Monday, May 14, 2007


The link above goes to a BBC Magazine piece on Helvetica, a font that you'll find almost anywhere. It's a Macintosh font, it's a logo slogan choice, it's something you perhaps didn't know the name of but saw everywhere.

However, another link on the page goes to BanComicSans.com, an attempt by two Canadians to push legislation to outlaw the use of Comic Sans in publishing. As many of you know, Comic Sans is that Windows default font developed first for use in help bubbles and then anything directed at a juvenile audience, such as a comic. Now, though, it's likely to be found on anything in attempts to connect with the consumer at a colloquial level. It may seem to be reasonable to the people pushing for its removal due to the fact that its ubiquity does no justice to the fact that it looks really out of place in the commercial environment, but no, it will not be banned. This is due to two main reasons: It's a ridiculous idea to make a government ban a typeface, and — hold your breath — it's a Windows (and now Macintosh) pre-load.

Because Windows operating systems come with fonts such as Comic Sans and Verdana that were developed for use by Microsoft, as well as fonts like Arial that are licensed from the Monotype Corporation, those fonts are probably going to be the ones you encounter in a world of small, fledgling businesses and MySpace-like placards. Decent fonts, such as Univers (I would say Helvetica, but that's a Macintosh pre-load), are not cheap, let alone free — so what choice do you really have if you're starting out or are just a regular guy writing invites to a house party? Even at that, you have the fact that such fonts will not render for many others on the Internet, so you're stuck with Microsoft pre-loads. Decent fonts, even non-Microsoft fonts, end up being in graphics.*

Personally, I don't like Comic Sans. I really don't like any of the Microsoft pre-loads, but Comic Sans is probably the most misused of all. I would use it for school activity worksheets or flyers, but that's where it stands; in my mind it's not even a good candidate for — well — comics! The line height is too high, upper-case letters are far from uniform, and mixed-case captions in comics never really took off (unless they were in Mad). Instead of banning it, though, I would probably seek to educate people in decent and tasteful graphic design and typography, and maybe call on Monotype, Linotype, ITC, Adobe, and Agfa to lower their rates.

* There are, however, a few notable exceptions: The websites for the Guardian and the Sun use Macintosh-native Geneva as their primary face. Also, Photobucket has started using Adobe-propagated and newly Macintosh-native Myriad in headers.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I got it last Wednesday, and it's all I've been doing for the past week, explaining why I haven't updated. And through completing it with the help of Marilland's walkthrough (and here are some things he missed, so I'll be contacting him about it), I've found it to be addictive. I haven't even touched Ranger and Diddy Kong Racing DS (supposedly a remake of the Nintendo 64 game, and I've heard that Banjo and Conker have been dropped since Rare moved over to Microsoft) yet.

Then again, that happens with every game I get; I get deliberately stuck. That, and I haven't had any WiFi battles yet, although I have 8 numbers registered at time of writing. And all the while, I have posted that I'm training, yet a lot of what I'm doing is working out the cogs (caves, items, buildings, etc.). Simply put, I'm a slow mover, and I have to focus just to get my team trained, which is difficult considering the landscape and lack of competent trainers. I miss Match Call, which let you come across trainers in Sapphire who obviously have improved; instead you have a VS Seeker, which you got in Fire Red to rematch everyone (some not changing level at all, but others making some headway).

What I like in particular are the changes in battle rules, particularly the contact attributes. It now seems fair that Fire Punch, for example, is a physical move instead of a special one by type default (although it still made you susceptible to Carvanha's Rough Skin). Now it seems a little odd that you have a stat for use of certain move elements, which undermines type match-ups, which are probably one of the most crucial aspects of battle. Also to be mentioned are Quick balls; they make it easy to capture Pokémon and eliminate much of the fainting mistakes.

What I do not like, however, is the registration of a Pokémon as seen being enough to get a National Pokédex. Rather, the National Pokédex should have been given if you had captured a minimum amount, as in Fire Red. In fact, I strongly believe it takes much of the objective out of training. Then again, you get a colour upgrade for your Trainer's Card if you do capture the whole bunch of 493.

All the same, it's an excellent instalment — it's just that I have yet to get some people who will actually battle and not be so arrogant about it. I'll have my credentials posted later on.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Has hell frozen over?

For once, I'm thinking that a lot of the drama going on between PC and me has root in my position as a Super Cheats administrator. On one side, I run to the root admins at PC and I get hounded away by the people they employ to stand in as superior moderators. On the other, I happen to be the one at a disadvantage just because the other has decided to exploit glitches to prove his point.

The latter case is that of David and me. Ah, when we were super mods; we didn't have to worry about banning others or setting massive rule codes. The ones with the power to ban were Rich and Dennis. Then Dave is promoted in place of Rich, who had been in the process of moving to Spain, and soon enough he's fixed in that position. Before then, we were neutral, often agreeing with each other, but ever since he became the administrator (I was to follow a few months later), things came unglued. All of the sudden, lower mods were complaining that he had been putting his foot down with personal opinions, a few times having to ban some for annoyances over MSN (and now Andy blocking me on that plea doesn't seem so bad after all). Since Nintendo_dude would soon leave his post as admin, I ended up being the one having to rake the muck.

There were a few problems by the time this came to be, though. First, I was by the time I became an admin a full-fledged PC member, becoming a moderator a mere month after Nintendo_dude and I became Super Cheats' newest administrators. Naturally I would have to lay down some ground rules in my part to make sure the forums were running fine, but as I sank deeper into PC, I actually began to drift away from Super Cheats. These days, a lot of the actions I take are the result of being buzzed on MSN, instead of me doing regular patrols. The first sign, though, was dropping off with submissions; I initially attributed that to an increase in working hours. So I sometimes feel that I'm not as sharp with situations as I had been before I found PC; in fact, even after I fell out, I still felt as if I now had a void to fill, and being an administrator at a site as popular and prone to spammers as Super Cheats was becoming unpleasant, what with Dave being hospitalised and cut down a few bars by Rich in the past that he sought madly to make up for misinterpretations of his own agenda — really, the rules he made as well as flawed interpretations of the ones I set. So I constantly bear the brunt. It's not that I have MSN or that I've been around longer; it's that I've written a lot of the rules.

Then I think: Andy, David (Origin), Jake....They must be in such a position as well. The staff administrators and root administrators, as I have said before, are not on the best of terms. The former group has been found to effect policies that I would normally expect of Steve or Kwesi given their position. And that's all I've critiqued them on. Yet I wonder: Could my criticism of them have root in my position on Super Cheats? It very well could. I've been so bitter to not realise that it was all a reincarnation of my attitude toward Dave for not following through on a plan I had set for the forums, although in the latter case I probably had significantly more grounds for it as I was at the same level as Dave and I looked up to Rich for what his position as site owner meant for him.

So as I crawl into bed, I think: Am I not cut out for Super Cheats anymore? Have my instincts spread into PC and paralysed it? Am I becoming, like Mewthree, an admin with decaying criteria?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Have mercy on the criminal

Rage over the massacre at Virginia Tech is one thing. However, I really believe that one of the worst things anyone could possibly do is pay attention to the video that suspected gunman Cho Seung-Hui made announcing his decision to attack the students.

Reports have swirled that Cho had made the video during the intermission between the shooting rounds at the university; he'd even gone as far as to send it to NBC. But should it really have been broadcast at this time? Personally, I don't think so. It's nothing more than fodder for the tabloids, and the immediate shift of focus by all the mainstream media from the concern over the sale of guns to this one dramatised video is more or less a desecration of the victims and survivors.

Cross Stinging Reality offers its condolences for the victims and survivors of the shooting on Monday.

Read the rules

It's really a shame that I have to rant about something that should have been planned by forums, chat rooms, and social networks everywhere but often isn't explained well enough.

When you register for any of these types of sites, you have to read and agree to a set of terms. Often you're presented with a little blurb describing the forum and what is expected before you register. On boards built on vBulletin, Invision Power, or whatever more, they write the terms of service for you. Of course, everyone knows that you have to read such terms in order to be a member, but not enough effort is made to make sure everyone goes by them. This is due to three reasons:

  • no-one is quizzed about it;
  • such terms of service don't often constitute the rules referred to when moderation is carried out; and
  • in normal cases you just have to click a little checkbox or button to get past the TOS screen.

In these cases, it's easy for any of four things to happen: A law-abiding member registers and posts, and eventually things get sour, a person joins to spam the hell out of the board, a person joins and assumes that the rules are probably the same for the board as any others they may be members of, or a bot registers (which is beyond the scope of this entry).

In the first case, either the person is hiding it really well, or something develops from something insignificant into a major glitch. This could result from repeated harsh experiences with the moderators or lack of agreement with much of the community on certain domestic or moderation issues. In half of such cases the administration is just full of miserable people; in others the member develops his or her own ideas that either misconstrue the objective of the administration or certain rules. The trigger either is a case of mini-modding (which obviously suggests superiority on the part of the person doing the modding) or an intramural event such as a relationship breaking up or a change of blood. In cases in which the member errs, it is usually resolved after the member is subject to peer mediation or insight therapy; in cases of the administration just being sour, you don't have a chance.

Then we have people who join, assuming that rules across the board are the same. This is a risky interpretation, seeing as, for example, PC has a whole section dedicated to emulation whilst PKMN.NET and SPPf don't want a word said of it.* A sub-problem can also be the lack of explicit regulation, leaving members to discern for themselves what the rules of posting are and potentially make posts bound to offend others. As a former PC member, I can tell you that implicit regulation made what the staff is today: While behaviour on the forums is average, some of the staff really wish they could have implicit regulation again. Here's the problem, though: You really have to trust all of the members who sign up, and bots and career spammers still are liable to join. Andy, in particular, isn't giving in so easily to this fact from what I can tell; I personally believe he's as much a piner for the old days as Paul or Ty, given his ramblings about how his perfect environment of unwritten rules was tragically spoilt by an influx of n00bs:

I'm sure if you read all this then you'd know by now you'd know I can't stand n00bs (and most if not all of this is about n00bs). I wasn't always like this, there was a time where I wouldn't put anyone down. Times change and n00bs came in, over the past few months it's like PC has had a rush of n00bs. It's like setting out food on a table outside and watch all the flys come in after it. And sadly n00bs has gotten to most if not all of the Staff of PC. I know all of us had last 1 run in with a stupid n00b on PC. And I know tons of members had run ins with them too. So everyone knows how I feel about them (at least a little). Lately I've been getting too many n00b PMs and threads for my own good. And if given the chance I'd ban every single one of them, just so I don't have to see their stupid posts. I get PMs from members crying about their thread not showing up, or about a friend that's banned. n00bs don't read the rules unless told, they also don't try to do better on PC. They just go on with their stupid ways and know it all attitude. I hate it when they think they know more about PC then the Staff. They think they know what should be changed better then the Staff. I'm open to ideas, but when you walk into PC a week after joining and wanting to make a major change to PC for your own good, then that's a little stuck up and self centered. Even more so when Staff say it's a bad idea and that n00b keeps going on about it. I tell you, if I didn't have a bad feeling about telling someone off then I would. I'd tell them off so bad (not flaming) that it'd make them cry and leave. But I know if I did it then it'd come back and bite me in the butt one day. But it still doesn't change the fact I HATE them. And I wish all of them would just leave PC. We'd be soooo much better off without the stupid n00bs that bugs the living day lights out of me and all the other Staff and members around PC. To me if I happen to end up leaving PC (or at least the Staff) one day then it's going to be the stupidness of stupid dumb butt hole n00bs. Members are members, newbies are newbies, and n00bs are n00bs. Incase you didn't know, there's a difference in newbies and n00bs. Newbies are new members on PC that tries to learn the rules and to get around with other members and so on. Every good member on PC was a newbie at one time (no one joined PC and knew the rules and how everything worked right off the bat). But n00bs on the other hand will not learn and won't listen to anything Staff says. There's a big difference in the two and so I hate n00bs. I am not going to cover it up with some nice word or try to make them happy. I hate n00bs, did you get that? I HATE n00bs! Let me say that one more time I HATE THE F-ING n00bs ON PC!!!

While this excerpt does the term 'n00b' justice, defining the boundary between the sort and the law-abiding newcomers, it simply dismisses the fact that that's what you get for running a forum with no written rules. The fact of life that they are, spammers and flamers are actually technically protected by unwritten rules — meaning that there's no excerpt of code or TOS that can be used to cite their offence and keep them banned. As the tone of this blog section is conveyed, he must have been reeling (and he probably still is) from the shock. In fact, what he said about me in response to another accusation from Paul in the April DCC buffered by my 'predictions' suggests that he expected others to take his rants seriously:

Oh, CW. You mean that stuck up ex-Mod that thought he knew everything on PC and thought so and so should have done things differently only because he had a Mod/Member prospective about things? Said I should listen to n00bs, respect them, I should change my ways because he thinks he's the ruler of the world? That said he got paired to a Staff member** so he could get Modded? That said we should have a smaller Staff only because [PKMN.NET] has a smaller one? You mean that CW?

This rant arose mainly from my complaint about staff redundancy and a complaint about the Simple Questions scheme going on in the gaming forums. I'll explain the latter here to make better sense of the rant: If you look at all of the gaming forums on PC, they're usually brimming with locked threads under an ordinance requiring that 'simple' questions go in a designated sticky thread. The issue I raised was that the word 'sticky' was rather vague and, judging by the amount of locked threads, the scheme obviously wasn't working. As a SuperCheats.com admin, I can tell you that as soon as someone gets into a game talk forum there's potential for help requests, and someone's going to make a thread asking for help on a certain subject. To resolve the situation, I offered three suggestions: clarify 'simple', shift the 'simple questions' to a subforum, or retire the scheme. Nope, Andy simply delivered his hollow 'n00bs' argument and it was over.

In order to keep this from turning into a full-out anti-PC rant (you can't hate a forum, you only hate the members or the staff for the way rules are executed — perhaps this is an anti-Arcanine rant?), I'll just move on to the third case: career spammers. They can take the form of mental patients, thugs, and bored schmoes. Whatever the case, a career violator is a career violator to the name, posting derogatory rants, deliberately flouting decency rules or making topics filled with 'SPAMSPAMSPAMSPAM' just to get a reaction. In that case, you have to do something, and fast. Of course, this would require explicit regulation, as I said before; otherwise, not everyone will stand idly by.

The fourth case I won't elaborate on. Okay, maybe a little. A lack of security precautions — image verification or remote activation, to name a few — can mean your site is prone to hijacked computers through which people send bots (and also HTTP requests, which contributed to a lot of the crashing that went on prior to the big hacking) to advertise services or trick members into contracting a virus.

For admins, the message is clear: You can't trust your members. Also, moderation is subject to trial and error; if one thing proves cumbersome, it's likely to all fall down. For members: Read the rules.

* The argument for PC is that they are not distributing ROMs, and their rules prohibit members for requesting or distributing; also, most of the ROM discussion is over the creation of spin-off games using the dump files. For PKMN.NET, such information is bound to be useful for real pirates as well as hackers who have downloaded dumps whilst they had the actual game in their possession.

** This is a fallacy; I paired with Lily two months after my promotion.