Tag Archives: Links

Weekend Reading May 1st, 2010

The Famous Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theatre announced its plans to do away with line-ups.

Gay Visitation Order shows how Obama brings big change with small actions

10 things the internet has ruined or killed and 5 things it hasn’t

A sarcastic essay on How to Write about Afghanistan

A fascinating look at the man who guards the Stanley Cup

A Reddit thread looks at the things you learn in Jail

John Kricfalusi asks why mediums have arbitrary rules

The Keep Calm and Carry On Poster Generator

Some handy dandy HTML5 demos

An Elevator industry job in Queens, New York attracts 750 applicants

The Story of #iranelection


#iranelection was for many people the top news source for the aftermath of incumbent President Mahmoud Amedinejad’s so-called victory over reformer candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi last Friday. It’s not a new cable news channel, or even a news website. It’s what is known on twitter.com as a “trending topic”, a self-declared association of posts on the micro-blogging site. Every post with the word “#iranelection” self-identifies as having something to do with the Iran situation, be it opinions, links to mainstream news articles, or even first hand reports. It’s a new form of primary historical document, one that combines the intimacy of personal letters, the immediacy of video or sound recordings, and the openness of a mass media broadcast.

Twitter is by no means new technology. I find it very similar the web-based chat rooms I myself used in highschool. What is different about it is that it has repurposed current technology to be used in a unique way. Where other systems wanted to emphasize privacy and security, Twitter emphasizes publicity and openness. Most of the 140 character “tweets” are meant for the rest of the Twitter community and the internet at large. It’s easy to write it off as some kind of narcissistic toy, I’m guilty of that myself. However, Twitter’s status as a toy rather than a serious social networking site probably kept it from being blocked in Iran within the first few hours of the protests. Other aspects of the site, like the 140 character limit and interoperable architecture have allowed bloggers in Iran to deal with shoddy connectivity and the government’s attempts to block communication from within the country.

The result is a riveting stream of human emotion, rumor, and anonymous people from across the globe communicating like they never could before. Take a look at this feed from @Change_in_Iran

from the looks of it they are waiting to arrest all the students! it’s also explains the vans9:14 PM Jun 13th from web

some people are now parking their cars in middle of the street trying to block the vans. #iranelection9:16 PM Jun 13th from web

Police is trying to stop people from gathering around while Intel guys still holding a line in front of the gates #iranelection9:05 PM Jun 13th from web

police demanding people to move their cars and start crashing car windows. more people are coming. I will try to get a better view9:18 PM Jun 13th from web

Down with the dictator! Mousavi, Karoubi; support us! #iranelection9:30 PM Jun 13th from web

my eyes are burning hard to keep them open #iranelection9:46 PM Jun 13th from web

I’m dizzy but ok. some people are getting shelter in the nearby unfinished bank building. police arresting a middle aged man10:11 PM Jun 13th from web

@ahmadinejad no wonder you are OK Mr president 24.5M10:13 PM Jun 13th from TwitterFox in reply to ahmadinejad

it’s 9:54 AM -Amirabad street near Pasargad bank and to be honest I don’t have the courage to leave the roof right now #iranelection10:27 PM Jun 13th from web

There are more accounts like this on #iranelection interspersed with rumors of riot police stings disguised as Moussavi rallies and burning ballot boxes. Some tweets supply the Iranians with lists of proxies to get around the government’s internet filters. A hacker’s toolkit of programs to shut down Iranian propaganda websites is making the rounds. From the rest of the world, there are notes praying for the safety of the protesters, “retweets” of some of the more vital bits of news for fellow bloggers, and criticism of mainstream media outlets for their lack of coverage on the events. To see people communicate like this on such a personal level, the future of totalitarian regimes is doubtful. Any government that oppresses its own people on the basis of the threat of an external enemy cannot survive like this. The Great Satan has no horns or pointed tail, and he’s able to send a twitpic to prove it.

This is not to say that Twitter and services like it are going to replace more mainstream froms of news gathering. CNN doesn’t deserve its own #CNNfail channel for the coverage of the Iran Election. The network has to tread carefully to get the kind of access it has. President Obama had just recognized the USA’s involvement in the 1953 installment of the Shah only a week before. The US would do well to keep its distance and establish that it has nothing to do with the current unrest. Besides, it doesn’t matter whether True Blood is the higher trending topic or the mainstream media has to wait a few dozen hours to report on what it finds. That’s not what this is about. We all have an opportunity now to witness history. If we can’t take to the streets, if we can’t tend to the wounded, if can’t tweet from our laptops on the roof, the very least we can do is watch and pray that freedom wins out.

Link Love

Here are some links I found in my travels this week:

Yamato toys is set to unveil a new line of products for the Macross event in Akihabara, including a 1/1 scale Fighter Pilot helmet. I’d be all over that thing if only I could fit my big giant head inside it. Via www.collectiondx.com

Ghostlightning over at “We Remember Love!” contemplates fan service outside the realm of pretty girls viewed at compromising angles.

We all know that the best Batman game was the one released on the NES after the movie came out 1989. An intrepid animator has created an intro for an 8-bit game based on the latest movie, “The Dark Knight”. This one will have you screaming “JUST PRESS START ALREADY!” Found via the Loony Blog.

Here’s an internet classic. The Smurfs are commies!

Some wicked mecha concept art found via espvisuals.

Someone has decided to transform a Japanese WWII Zero fighter into a Battloid.

It’s the Serenity crew in Lego form!

Fool’s Errant muses on the tropes and trends of Space Opera.

Standards of Misogyny in Video Games

Now, it’s been years since I’ve been anywhere near the video games industry, but I still like to keep up with it in an armchair capacity. One of my favorite sites by which to do this is a blog called gamesetwatch, a collection of essays and links to articles by many industry leaders. One article they had recently was a retrospective on “Time Gal”, one of those old laser disc arcade games that had animated cutscenes that you control via pressing the correct button or moving the joystick in the right way. The author, Todd Ciolek, (who also writes X-button, a fine column at the Anime News Network) pointed out that Time Gal was the first game to have a non-licensed character that players could recognize as human. He goes on to praise the game for having a heroine that was so cute and chirpy, but then there was one line that just made my head spin.

“Misogyny creeps in, of course: Time Gal’s already skimpy clothes get ripped away by T-Rexes and Fist of the North Star mutants alike, and she’ll scream about being struck on the chest or getting bitten on her partially exposed rear. Pioneers are not always proud.”

It wasn’t just what he said, it’s how he said it. Misogyny. You know, creeping in like that. Here you are, pushing through the glass ceiling, but let one of those things on your chest slip out and BOOM! There’s misogyny. The word here is written with such complacency, such blasé, that it’s almost as if the author was describing the sky as blue. To use such a powerful word as misogyny in that way tells me that he doesn’t even believe in what he says. And why should he have to? He’s only preaching the gospel truth. You can see it repeated all over the ‘net. To show women as sexual in any capacity is misogynist. That’s it. Finito. End of discussion.

When there’s an idea that becomes sacrosanct and, dare I say, unexamined, it bothers me. Untested truth is what keeps us from moving forward, making connections and seeing the greater scheme of things. This is part of a pattern I keep seeing again and again in video game criticism. Why is a scantily clad girl in a video game defined as misogyny? “How is that not misogyny!?” is not a valid answer.

Despite being male, I think I can put my liberal arts hat back on and take a crack at this one. Misogyny is the hatred of women. If a woman getting her clothes torn suggestively in a fight is misogyny, then there are a couple of assumptions at work here. The first is that this is sexual objectification, where a woman is judged by her physical attributes independent of her personality and intelligence. This is demeaning to women, and that makes it misogyny.

I have a problem with this. This also assumes that the way a woman looks and how she presents herself has nothing to do with her personal taste, her habits or the culture she comes from. It would seem that this imagery is only defined by how I see it. Big, white male me. Now this tells me that if I look at something and get a rise out of it, it immediately becomes misogynist. I am indirectly dictating what can and cannot be depicted in regards to women. It doesn’t matter if anyone else finds the game cute or funny. Is that feminist? Hell, is that even humanist?

So now that we’ve found out what misogyny is, what’s feminism? What images do game companies produce if they want to be forward-thinking and catch that ever-elusive female audience? Many would point to a game called Portal. It’s about a battle between a sarcastic computer and Chell, a barely seen female protagonist in a formless jumpsuit with no dialog, no expression, and no personality. She is seen as the perfect feminist archetype, as opposed to blond-haired traitors like Super Mario’s Princess Peach. Of course, this can’t explain why Peach herself has female fans all over the world and why her own game, Super Princess Peach, has sold over a million copies.

That, my friends, is why we can’t have compelling video game characters. This is why we live in a video game world populated by bald space marines and sullen amazonian axe-murderers. When we intentionally wall off a part of human nature, we blind ourselves to potential avenues of creativity. A specific, easily recognizable character can make the difference between millions of dollars in revenue and billions.