On the PR Disaster at #Skepticon and the lack of #ConcernedStudent1950 representation

Given how the late-addition “Q&A” session at Skepticon came into being, how it was sold to the convention, how it was advertised, and how it was “envisioned” by Danielle Muscato and Mark Schierbecker, it is no surprise the entire thing went off disastrously. Let us itemize the ways this all went wrong.

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How to survive Fallout

Our friend Dr Raychelle Burks features in this video about the science behind the lore of Fallout. Considering I just wandered back into the wasteland myself, I shall take careful notes!

How would we ACTUALLY survive a nuclear apocalypse? Well, certainly not by eating the meat of every mutated creature you kill, and every can we find of two hundred year old CRAM Processed Ham Product.

Ethical Gamer: Axiom Verge

I love retraversal games — games where, as you explore and gain powers, new areas open up. Metroid, and later Castlevania, refined the genre to an exceedingly high degree. Knowing that this indie game Axiom Verge, was made by one lonely dev named Tom Happ — including the incredibly atmospheric Geiger-like graphics and Metroid-influenced music — I should be fairly lenient on the parts of the game that I found to be less polished. I can’t help but fixate on some of them, though. They were few and far between, but there were several moments that seriously took me out of the game.

Huge spoiler warning for Axiom Verge. Can’t be helped, though.

(Notice how people won’t freak out about a spoiler warning, but might about a trigger warning? Yeah, that’s not lost on me either.)

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Spoiler warning: douchebags think trigger warnings are bad

Quick linking post — was quoted over on Skepchick in re Richard Dawkins’ latest nonsense, wherein he rails against warning rape victims about rape discussion on college campuses. I need to write a fuller post about how exactly people are getting this wrong, but this is a great one-two punch.

Dawkins is right about one thing: Secular Safezones have an important place, especially in areas where being non-religious (or not belonging to the majority religion) can lead to marginalization. But if he acknowledges that, how can he argue that same care isn’t warranted for those coping with PTSD from rape, assault, or other trauma? Does Richard Dawkins think there isn’t enough oppression to go around? That if he shows compassion for victims of assault or rape, his pet cause won’t get enough recognition? Or is the reality more damning?

Spoiler warning: the contents of this post includes discussion about trigger warnings. Douchebag discretion is advised.

A centrist Liberal Canada is miles better from a far-right one

All the major election-coverage news outlets are projecting a Liberal win tonight. Congratulations to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Better not screw this up, dude. Full results here.

Well, it ain’t Blue up north any more, and thank goodness for that. Mulcair had the best chance anyone could have gotten in his position and he choked, bigtime. Sorry.

And now for the traditional Canadian song as PM Harper et Entourage exeunt, stage right, though they will sadly likely form opposition:

On Hold: Investigating Transgender Health Access in Canada

Vice just released a documentary on trans health care access in Canada, and from the synopsis alone, I can already tell I’m going to be very mad about the state of access in my birth province, New Brunswick. I mean, they’re the most backward on abortion, why not also be the most backward on trans rights? Why not take every shat-upon societal group and mistreat them a little more than everyone else, just to make yourselves feel better about being the shittiest little lump of aggrieved conservatism in Canada that doesn’t even have Alberta’s money to splash around?

Haven’t watched any of it yet, so you’re going to watch it with me. Unless, of course, you only watch it this evening. I plan on listening to it this morning while I square away a bunch of work stuff, and I’ll hopefully have time to jot down more thoughts on the train ride home.

Below the fold because apparently it autoplays.
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John Oliver on mental illness and the gun lovers using it as cover

Every time there’s another senseless act of mass-murder by a gunman with easy access to guns and ammo and a heaping helping of aggrieved entitlement, that’s when everyone in the political sphere suddenly remembers that mental health issues exist. Not that they often even intersect — just the mere fact that the guy (and it’s always a guy, and almost always white) killed a bunch of folks doesn’t actually say anything about their mental health. In fact, the Oregon shooter a few days ago passed a psych eval before his mass-murder. And yet everyone’s quick to say the problem here isn’t easy access to guns and ammo, but rather the murderer’s mental health.

John Oliver takes apart this situational and blatantly self-interested concern about mental health readily. Not that it’s hard, but nobody in the media is doing it, what with vested interests and an entire 33% of your country who thinks “a well regulated militia” means owning thirty guns in a misguided effort to try to take on the US government because you don’t like what some Republican has told you is going to happen to your gun rights.

Tony Hawk 5 is a disaster on four wheels

In fairness, I haven’t played it (ergo why this is not an Ethical Gamer post — that’s only for games I’ve actually played). I don’t know how prevalent these bugs are. But from all accounts, the physics engine in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 is a complete mess. Never mind the graphical aesthetic, which is like if you took a photograph and tried to cell shade it, then make all the objects more pointy so they’d work in a last-gen rendering engine — I can get over a weird set of graphical choices and a blocky art direction and even, horror upon horrors, a frame rate under 60fps. What I can’t forgive, though, is a giant price tag on a triple-A release from a venerated game franchise like Tony Hawk that looks, well, like this. I mean, just look at this nonsense.

Also strangely, the game shipped with 4.6 gigs on disc, and its day one patch was 7.8 gigs. Generally, these are to patch bugs that have been discovered since the disc shipped, though some conspiracy-minded folks seem to think it’s to keep people from shipping a game early. By some accounts, the only things that were playable pre-patch were the tutorial and the editor mode; others say, the game is fully playable without the patch. Either way, the physics is apparently still a wreck even with all the patches. AND, to make matters worse, it shipped without ever sending review copies to reviewers — a move widely recognized as an admission that they knew it was a mess internally before shipping. Remember when Hollywood tried to tell us that texting during movies was responsible for their poor showing? Seriously, Hollywood tried to blame viewers’ ability to rapidly warn away their friends for Gigli’s flop, because if it weren’t for all those easily-accessible reviews, nobody would know the movie sucked and they’d have been able to grift more people.

Of course, SINCE early reviews aren’t accessible for THPS5, more people like me who remember the franchise fondly would be willing to pre-order or buy this on launch only to find a buggy mess that downloads patches that almost double the shipped disc. Tell me this — which is more unethical, being a woman indie dev who didn’t have sex with a game journalist? Or being a big company selling a grossly broken product for a gigantic fistful of cash? Cross-reference Batman: Arkham Knight on the PC, or Assassin’s Creed: Unity everywhere.

Also of note is that Penny Arcade is now decrying criticizing a medium that you love, where once they argued the exact opposite. They are rapidly descending into a spiral that will inevitably land them in the cesspool of other reactionary right-wingers who just hate, hate, HATE that anyone could possibly think anything’s actually fundamentally wrong with their beloved medium, or, say, with themselves, like with their own Dick Wolves nonsense. (Trigger warnings galore if you decide to Google that shit. Just don’t.)

I’m kinda heartbroken that my childhood memories of Tony Hawk Pro Skater were so, so much better, less glitchy, and — compared to its contemporaries — competitive graphically than what passes for a $70 game today. But, I wasn’t planning on buying this before — and I’m definitely not going to now.

The Forbes article, incidentally, quotes liberally from our good friend Tauriq Moosa‘s twitter account, which, while you should definitely follow because Tauriq is awesome, I’m sure isn’t being written for Forbes’ benefit.