So Monolith Board Games LLC has an amazing looking Conan board game Kickstarter going on. I may or may not invest in it just to get my hands on one of the most awesome tributes to Robert E. Howard’s work. But I need to get off my butt and organize a game night or two with friends. Once we got that ball rolling, the game is easier to justify. Regardless, you should check it out.
On the subject of Kickstarters, Shadowrun: Hong Kong is closing in on its final funding tier of $700,000. A thing of note by the way, Racter and Duncan Wu will, as I suspected in my previous post, get their personal missions as part of the game’s regular story.
Outside the realm of games, I’m really looking forward to the new movie Chappie, coming this March 6th, directed by Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame. The story is a familiar one, I admit. Robots are used to police third world countries, giving the people there the chance they need to work their way out of poverty. But the designer of said police robots has, of course, a vision for machine learning that results in an actual artificially intelligent robot hence named Chappie.
Based on the commercials, I suspect the film follows this pattern: Showcase of how these machines have changed the world. A distrusting head of some division (Hugh Jackman) is in charge of rival bigger-badder-better robot development. A developer (Dev Patel) finally creates a machine that thinks, names it Chappie, and it charms us. Hugh Jackman’s character finds out and tries to kill Chappie, who then escapes and allies himself with a street gang who is less than-thrilled with the tilted status quo. So Chappie fights back, accidentally causes chaos and has to correct it. Probably dies at the end or leads us to believe he has.
In my theory, the material is nothing new, so I suspect that Blomkamp is just aiming to do it well. Movies tend to be the short stories of film, at least compared to television. And there’s only so much time to tell your tale, making novelty a challenge.
Originally, I wanted to write a full blown blog post about surviving the dreaded political season that is approaching. As both partisan groups are currently courting their candidates, tempers have been high on news channel comment boards.
Instead, I’m just going to give a few safety tips for the upcoming season. Politics is a very fast and easy way to make lasting, unforgiving enemies. Having an expressed opinion at all is all it could take. If you have no interest in earning your “wing” from labelists and igniting the inevitable controversy, remember a few rules:
Political Survival Tips for the Neutral:
1) No matter how funny SNL’s skit about such-and-such candidate was last night, keep it to yourself. Don’t retweet or share it from any source. Likewise, stay away from dressing as any politicians for Halloween as you are courting the controversy.
2) If you’re moderating on comment boards, your Facebook account or just dinner, remember to shut down any talk involving politicians or the election. You have to be fair though and shut down the discussion and topic as a whole, not just the guys you disagree with. Shutting down one side over the other can paint you as unfairly partial. While this might be seen as overkill, the willingness to host said conversation at all can be seen as a “flare” for others to join in.
3) If someone is being a true zealot, and will not stop spamming news and op-eds from politically-slanted news sources, remember that Facebook has a handy “I don’t want to see this” option on the top right of every news feed post. This will reduce posts of said nature. You can also do the “Unfollow <name>” option to entirely remove this person from your news feed without unfriending them, a great way to placate family members without alienating them.
4) If you’re an artist-type who is tempted to take a side, remember that doing so will revoke your status as “neutral.” You might curry the favor of the side you join, but you’ll lose the opposition. Worse, those who were neutral before will have less reason to trust you as they probably enjoyed the relief you offered from having no obvious political stripes, and they may even suspect a bias in your work. Do as you will, but remember that declaring allegiances has a cost!
5) Finally, don’t attempt to engage the conversation from an open-minded neutral point of view either. Both sides are firmly capable of the with-us-or-against-us mentality where you can be branded just for being willing to hear out the opposition. While you might entertain the possibility of being the great peacemaker, the reality is that the only thing that effectively changes peoples’ minds is experience. And painstakingly few are willing to weigh the facts and points without trying to rabble rouse.
Hopefully that should keep your beige alert from going more than mellow. Stay out of trouble in 2015, folks! It’s Banh Mi here at work and I maybe talking about that this weekend.