Bit Musings

A rather light post tonight.

Just some random thoughts:
  • Working on a Finite State Machine library in Python. Others have done it, I want to roll my own. I'm weird like that. It'll probably start as a textual library, then maybe move to a GUI. Learning experience.
  • GMail has themage. Yes, I rock the ASCII Terminal Theme. I am DORK!
  • Civilization Revolutions eats my time like crazy. Sid Meier, you make my time melt.
  • I should finish Phantom Hourglass sometime soon; I keep putting it off.
  • Am I the only one who thinks the little-'l' libertarians* are out in force more given the current US economic situation? I'll come back to this in the future.
And now back to scribbles on my notebook, new car research and course-work I found on operating systems.


*There is a difference. The little-'l' libertarians actually have a cogent philosophy. The big-'L' Libertarians, on the other hand, well, let's not go there. I won't even dignify them.


Gaming Heretic

I know I said I would do a post about morality and religion, but this was the subject that struck me this week while mashing a midnight support shift. The other one is still in the works, never fear. I just won't say when it will arrive.

I never said this thing would be exclusively about secularism or politics.

Meanwhile, enjoy.

I'm a gaming heretic. I've always been and always will be a gaming heretic.

I'm skeptical about games. I honestly look at replay-ability over shiny graphics; content over hype. It is probably an out-growth of my general skepticism about the world. I have questions, and I look for real answers.

I'm going to posit something here that will have be derided and ridiculed mercilessly by a group that itself is shunned and ridiculed on a fairly regular basis. I make the posit not because I want to mock the group of gamers; far from it. I am a gamer, no matter how heretical I may be. Ever since the great works of Shigeru Miyamoto hooked me in my youth, I've played games. I love to escape to fantasy worlds as much as the next biped; although I've always preferred to imagine the worlds myself or dig into the world offered by an author -- more of a historical artifact, games used to be small.

My assertion is this: World of Warcraft is ridiculous.

Now, I know Stone and Parker have already poked fun at this game. Instead of making light of my fellow gamer, which I think they may actually deserve in cases*, I'm going to just jot down some of the immediate costs of the game.

My assumption is a player who has played since November 23, 2004. Please note, my cursory scrounging only produced modern values for the price of the game, so the outcome values may be slightly off.

  • Cost of the WoW Game: $19.99
  • Cost of the Burning Crusade Expansion: $29.99
  • Cost of the Wrath of the Lich King Expansion: $39.99
  • Cost of month-to-month subscription: $14.99
  • Cost of six month subscription: $12.99/mo ($77.94 for six months)

Now, summing the cost of the game's binaries: $89.97

All in all, not all that bad, when you think about it. Over the years, I've given more to Nintendo for the little mustachioed plumber or the sword-weilding boy-hero. But, this is merely the one time cost of WoW. I never had to pay more than the one time cost for games.

Given that the hypothetical player in this situation has been playing for four years, those monthly costs will add up. Four years is 48 months. But oh, Blizzard is generous, they give you a month free. Ok, so the hypothetical gamer has only shelled out for 47 months to the mighty mighty publisher of the most successful MMORPG (or MMOG in general).

So, 47 months is either $610.53 or $704.53 depending on the subscription plan our gamer opted for.

So the cost, to date, to Nomber 2008, is either $700.50 or $794.50. And the cost will just climb.

I'm going to assume our gamer is a dedicated player, so she went for the six month plan. So far, she has spent $700.50 on WoW. Just on the game. Think about it for a moment. I'll let you readjust your jaw.

Oh, you may want to brush that dirt off, might taste funny.

Seven hundred bucks, my friends. That is how much our dedicated fan has shelled out to Blizzard. Not counting all the internet access she has paid for, which is a substantial cost in itself. And yes, even if she uses her hookup to the 'tubes for more than WoW, she rightly has to reckon that in, since WoW requires it. I know I've had a hefty internet bill from buying broadband the last few years. Not cheap. Oh, and let's not forget all the other little ancilliary costs Blizzard has heaped on: transfer costs, guides, etc.

I suppose you would like a number on a broadband tube connection. Well, they're fuzzy here in the states. I'll pick a conservative number: $30 per month (not counting taxes and fees). So, 48 months (sadly, I've never heard of a provider that gives free months) at $30: $1440.00.

So our dedicated gamer has shelled out, purely in money terms, $2140.50 to play WoW. Sorry about your jaw again.

That's pretty ridiculous if you ask me. And we haven't even begun to think about the time cost, either. Time is money, even if it is for relaxation purposes. And I know many a gamer that isn't able to relax on a game due to other players or the game itself.

Blizzard has this shit figured out**.

*If you can't take some slight satire and laugh, you are taking yourself too seriously. As a nerd, I enjoy satire of my group, helps keep me humble.

**I know, Blizzard does have administration costs, servers and the pipes they would need to support this kind of game are expensive. But even given that, they've found the money tree (or shrub, greenbacks are printed on cotton still).

I was originally writing an article on why MMOGs in general were the source of ridicule and destroying gaming. But that article was getting massive and unwieldy. Too much for a blog post, really.

Maybe someday. Maybe. Probably not. Remind me about it, if you feel so inclined. We'll see what happens.



The Sober Light of a New Day

After the headiness of last evening, I realize there is still much to be angry about. To rail and rock against. To fight until the bitter end.

I'm willing to stand. Knock me down, I will get back up. I will struggle until it is truly finished.

But nothing for today, too much other stuff to deal with in meat-space.

Coming soon: morality is external from religion, not the other way around.



In Which I Feel Elation

I meant to be in bed now, I really did.

After casting my ballot this morning, I went to great lengths to avoid any election coverage. In my mind, once your ballot is cast, any election coverage is just a waste of time and energy.

So I lounged around feeling wiped out; I had stayed up too late Monday night, dealt with ridiculously noisy neighbors at 5 am, and getting up early to hit the polls. As I write this, I'm still aching, and I need to sleep.

Then, just a short while ago, my mother called to give me the news: Mr John McCain had conceded the election, Mr Barack Obama was our new President-Elect. It was a moment wherein my cynical dread from the last few days evaporated and was replaced with a sense of elation.

It has been, in my opinion, eight long years of stupidity, arrogance of ignorance, vitriol and anguish. Eight years of economic ruin, seven years of a political landscape that seemed to have escaped from the mind of a lunatic, five years of a destructive and disastrous war where many good people met their end in a short, violent and brutal death.

And tonight is catharsis. Tonight is relief. Tonight is joy.

I sit here and am watching Mr Obama give his speech. A person of eloquence, a person of grace, a person of intelligence. A good person. The sort of person that hasn't graced that residence on Pennsylvania Avenue in years. A happiness.

Don't get me wrong, there is still much to be done. An economy to fix. Good women and men to bring home in one piece. An international reputation to reconstruct. It is just the beginning.

But damn, a moment of hope for once. A moment when things are genuinely positive. Where the door has been opened where it was once firmly sealed shut.

Good night from the US. Tomorrow we shall wake up, and we will keep fighting. But for tonight, tonight is joy. Tonight is happiness.

Pointer derefernce: success.


Ah, November. How the hell did it get this late in the year? It feels like August was just a few days ago.

For those not in the US, you can safely ignore this post; unless you have some interest in our bizarre affairs, if so, enjoy your voyeurism.

In a few short days, millions of US citizens (sadly, probably still only a small fraction of all eligible voters) will wander to their polling place and cast votes using a myriad of different voting systems from the crude to the shoddy to the sophisticated. They'll get little stickers declaring 'I Voted'.

I wish I could feel less cynicism about the whole thing, but the whole system and past experience lead me to feel otherwise. It is all to easy to defraud the system, especially as time goes on and paper trails disappear.

I won't go into ugly detail of what the two possible outcomes may be; others have done it for me.

I'm a liberal sort of person. Don't get me wrong, I don't blindly vote for one of the major parties, I honestly do select on what I consider qualifications. I don't go in for the glorification of ignorance, for racism, for fear of the new and unknown.

All I will say is I feel a bit of dread. Next week could be very uplifting, or incredibly depressing. Regardless of what happens on November 4th, 2008, the world will keep spinning.


The Begining and Rebuilding the Tower of Babel

Not sure why I've wandered back to Blogger. I used to host my own, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that. But here I am.

Do I really need to declare my intentions here? Must I follow a trite cliché?

Too bad, I'm not doing it. We'll figure it out as we go along.

I want you to imagine a place for me.

This place is a great and mighty city-state. A place so great that it acts as a draw for people from all over, an engine of commerce. In this place, you can find anything you may need. There are so many different peoples in this place, and they've all begun to speak a common tongue. Knowledge is being gathered and built upon; engineering skill is growing, almost nothing is beyond the skills of the men and women gathered there.

Sound like a great place? When I first heard of it, I thought, "Wow, this seems like a good place to live."

Well, apparently not. This particular place, or idea of a place, has been imagined time and time again in the Ancient Near-East. In the story known to most of the folks that may read this, the place is Babilu, or Babel, but it has gone by other names.

In the narrative, the language of the people is scrambled and the people become scattered. The greatness of the place is diminished. The city-state falls.

Now, I'm sure there is some actual historical kernel of truth buried in this ancient story. Perhaps something catastrophically bad happened to the people, I don't know. If there are any archaeologists or historians out there that have harder facts, I welcome elucidation on the matter.

Beyond the story, or whatever true event happened (or didn't happen) there a few thousand years ago is the moral of the story: human hubris can be a bad thing. On the face of it, warnings against hubris aren't all that bad; one should be careful in their advancements, lest they over-reach and fail.

But somewhere in there, something got twisted, and the way that I learned it, the hubris is not over architecture, but rather on the idea of getting together, of gathering knowledge, of learning of your fellow man. And I see this idea repeated disturbingly often in other contexts. Somewhere along the lines, it became evil to know. Knowledge is the crime, the sin, the affront to the deity of your choice*.

And therein lies a problem; a real, genuine, progress thwarting problem. This equating of knowledge with evil seems to lead people to fear knowledge. It is a fear of new knowledge that might invalidate cherished ideas; a new knowledge that the group of people you don't like has most of the same wants and desires that you do (this works in the reverse as well); a new knowledge that we maybe, just maybe, have the capability to accomplish whatever we set our minds to, provided we give it sufficient effort.

I'll say it right now, up front and center in my first post**, I have no time for those that fear knowledge, or would seek to curtail our knowledge to a mish-mashed series of religious texts or over-glorified traditions.

I'm an entity that seeks new knowledge. I seek understanding. I seek to raise the whole of humanity to the infinite heights it seems capable of, provided it can get beyond its old hang ups. I seek to dismantle these ancient ideas that are our chains holding us down.

These ancient ideas have always rankled me. I've always been bothered by the idea that I shouldn't trust anything unless some authority told me to do so. If I've genuinely learned something — and I have nothing against learning from those that have acquired empirically verified knowledge — I'm going to trust that knowledge as the best working model I have for the world.

I say, let's keep building that tight-knit world; let's break the barriers that time and space and people have erected. Build that tower, not because it is an affront — what's there to affront? — but because it is a symbol of what humanity can do when not shackled to the ground.

*This idea that knowledge is evil seems to crop up in more than just your Abrahamic religions. It seems to show up time and again all over the Mediterranean.

**(HA! Frist PSOT!)

There's my first entry here. Hope you enjoyed. It is left as an exercise to the reader to get the drift of what this blog may be about, at least in some small way. My interests and views are wide and varied; I just decided to jump into this end of my mental pool — there are even deeper ends; conversely, there are much shallower ends too.