Labour Day

On this Labour Day (or Labor if you prefer), remember how your day off came into being.

In Canada, in 1872, a parade was held by the Toronto Typographical Union in support of reducing the work week to 58 hours. George Brown, their boss, had police charge these unionists with “conspiracy”, resulting in 24 arrests. Another parade was held on September 3rd in protest of the arrests, and eventually the laws criminalizing union activity were repealed. Canada set their Labour Day to the first Monday of September in 1880, and it’s a national holiday.

In the States, after the Haymarket Massacre in 1886 where a number of workers were killed by police on May 3rd, and unionists rallied the next day to push for an eight hour work week and to protest the deaths of the workers the day before, acts which were widely speculated to have been done by the police at the behest of the corporate interests. The protest ended in riot when some unknown assailant threw dynamite into the crowd, killing seven officers and four civilians — an act that resulted in arrests of 24 anarchists, but is frequently speculated to have been committed by an anti-union provocateur. No bomber was ever brought to justice.

While most other countries had May 1 as their labour day to coincide with (or *be*) International Workers’ Day, Grover Cleveland feared May 1 would be used to commemorate the events of the Haymarket Massacre, so he set it to the same day as Canada’s instead. Unions continued to push for a 40-hr work week, and eventually won it — of course, unless you’re salaried, then you’re expected to work or be on call basically all the time without extra compensation.

Remember that people literally died for your labour rights, and that even despite the massive income disparity and corporate-tilted playing field, you might have it even worse if it weren’t for unions and labour rights advocates.

Zelda 2 Livestream #DIYSciZone #GGC2015 #GeekGirlCon

Here comes my Act of Whimsey! Sadly, thanks to technical difficulties (with my alarm clock!) I have to push the start time forward to 11am. Stream begins as soon as I get everything set up!

The rules are: no cheats, no glitches, just pure old-school skill and a walkthrough so you don’t have to watch me flounder about. To save me from disasters I’ll occasionally use save states, but I won’t abuse them and won’t load any if I can help it. I will try to beat it beginning to end with as few bathroom / food breaks as possible, in just one day. If the first stream goes about ten hours, I’ll save, end the stream, and finish the remainder next weekend.

Watch live video from Lousycanuck on

Livestream of Zelda 2: Adventure of Link tomorrow! #DIYSciZone #GGC2015 #GeekGirlCon

I’m looking forward to Geek Girl Con‘s DIY Science Zone, where I’ll be volunteering to do demonstrations of buoyancy and water displacement all weekend on October 3rd and 4th. But between me and that weekend stands my Acts of Whimsey, torturous little tasks I’ve signed up for in exchange for us reaching certain fund-raising goals. Since we passed the $3500 mark, my next task is to livestream play through the entirety of Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link.

You might remember last year’s livestream of Battletoads, which, sadly, Twitch has expired off its feed. I still have the complete video though, in two parts, where I beat the game in about 16-ish hours over two weekends — with the only cheat being infinite lives. I’ll compile them and post them someplace, perhaps.

Zelda 2 is torturous, but not in the same way as Battletoads. First, the game is significantly different from every other Zelda game you’ve played. It’s a side-scroller, it has experience points and leveling, and Link moves like a dumptruck that can jump (without a Roc feather, even!). It also has a number of the most unfair and patently absurd challenges for a game of its ilk, including the first iconic battle between Link and his evil shadow doppelganger. Ganon never appears, and his name in the Game Over screen is spelled “Gannon”. Its clues are mired by the fact that they had to pack text into tiny 40-ish character boxes, which they couldn’t change from the original Japanese layout in translation for space reasons — meaning the translation is the equivalent of condensing several complete sentences into 1/3 of a tweet. All the nuance of “GET CANDLE AT PARAPA PALACE. GO WEST.” is destroyed — you’re supposed to FIRST get the candle at Parapa (which is northeast of start), THEN go west to the next town.

I will not use any cheats in this playthrough at all — no Game Genie codes, anyway. Anything that the game allows me to do (e.g. using the Fairy spell to fly through a keyhole) is not a cheat. I will, however, since it’s been over twenty years since I owned this cart personally, refer to a walkthrough fairly liberally so you don’t have to watch me retraversing areas over and over desperately searching for the next place to go.

I’ll also try to actually have the microphone volume up loud enough this time that you can hear me talk this time, but there’s a few physical aspects of the setup that I can’t really work around at the moment — my laptop has to be closer to the TV than to me, and I don’t have an external mic that’s at all viable. But I’ll see what I can do.

The stream starts tomorrow morning at 10am CST, and you can feel free to tune in on the blog post that I’ll post tomorrow at about 9:30.

If you’d like to donate to Geek Girl Con’s DIY Science Zone, to help the volunteer scientists with the materials they need to teach kids about science, you can do so right here! Surely showing the kids at Geek Girl Con how to extract DNA from strawberries, how cool oobleck is, or how to make a real comet out of dirt and snow, is worth a couple of your spare bucks, right?

Ethical Gamer: La-Mulana

Writing a review for La-Mulana might be every bit as hard as actually playing it.

Games made by fans of the particular genre of video games known as “Castleroids” tend to be exacting, grueling affairs if done poorly; exacting, grueling and COMPELLING affairs if done exceedingly well. La-Mulana, in both its original (freeware) form and its 2012 remake manages to achieve just about the perfect balance of difficulty and depth, even where it leaves me needing frequent breaks. The Japanese indie outfit Nigoro originally created the game to be a PC retro game that apes an MSX game — the MSX being the Japanese Microsoft home PC during the Famicom era. In fact, Konami and Hudson Soft developed heavily for the system before moving on to the true consoles, including such titles as Metal Gear (an MSX exclusive, at the time).

I’m currently playing the 2012 remake of La-Mulana, having only briefly attempted a playthrough of the original game. Its graphics bring to mind a 32-bit game like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, only much cuter and more cartoony. Your character, the one-block-high Professor Lemeza Kosugi, is a Japanese-American ninja-slash-archaeologist. The “ninja” part is evident in his choice of sub-weapons like caltrops and shuriken, and the “archaeologist” part is evident chiefly in his Indiana Jones attire and bullwhip main weapon.

And, I suppose, the setting — you’ve travelled to La-Mulana, the “cradle of civilization” and evidently a single ruin that contains references to numerous world cultures including Aztec, Egyptian, Greek, Babylonian and Japanese in a sort of Stargate sort of way. With your bullwhip, laptop and a million shuriken (which you have to buy at a gold apiece), you’ll have to unravel the mysteries of the ruins in order to beat your father and professional rival to the punch.

Content note: I complain about another game by this dev that involves “creepshots” type sexual assault. Highlight where the note is to read it.
[Read more…]

The Conservative Party of Canada’s platform has some objectively harmful religiously-motivated policies

So, the official party platform for the CPC as of February 2014 apparently has a bunch of real turds in amongst their planks.

Given that Canada’s heading into an election within the next two months (and given that this election might be the last I can actually vote in, despite being a tax-paying citizen), I want to make sure that my vote and my voice counts. The talking points are that we should vote on policy, and here’s their policy.

A good way to amplify my voice is to use what platform I have to inform people of some of the CPC’s official policies, e.g. the various regressions they’re actively trying to make happen despite being the party in power over one of the most progressive countries in the world.
[Read more…]

Thoughts on the Ashley Madison hack

I’m irritated by this whole thing.

On the one hand, it’s interesting that this might be the first time where MEN are being targeted generally for revenge for sexual indiscretions, and that these indiscretions are actually far more indiscrete than taking nude selfies to share with consenting adults.

On the other, this hack is every bit as much of a violation for these men and women, though it seems mostly only the men are going to be targeted. It includes information about their fetishes, and it includes instances of every account that’s ever been created and since “deleted”-but-not-really. The hack of the information from the site’s database is horrid, and the intent from some quarters — political, anti-social-justice, etc — to pore through it to damn specific people over being in that database is really gross. It’s gross in the same sort of voyeuristic way that putting up revenge porn is gross, though maybe not gross to the same degree insofar as it’s damning them for, at best, THINKING of doing something unethical, rather than damning them for doing something totally normal and commonplace as sending nudies to consenting partners.

This amounts to an infidelity dragnet, and it’s bound to catch innocents who’ve only engaged in “thoughtcrime”, having CONSIDERED having an affair. People who had accounts at one time, but no longer. People who had accounts before even being married. Yes, the site is about married people looking to “cheat”, but I’m sure straight and lovelorn people have ended up signing up for accounts on Grindr before, so it’s bound to happen that people sign up for this site just looking to pull a date. Not to mention that poly folks could very well use this relationship-finder with the full knowledge of their partners. Or people who signed up to research the site, even!

Mind you, it is a bright line that I cannot cross, where I would never engage in any activity that anyone directly impacted by it — e.g. partners — would not consent to. I am an advocate of ongoing, active, informed consent, and abrogating that consent is gross and wrong. It is a breach of trust that absolutely could and probably should ruin relationships. An ethical thing to do on encountering this information about someone’s relationship is to tell them privately — not splash it all over the deep web and create searchable indexes so that 4chan can go digging for dirt on all their most hated Social Justice Warriors. Never mind that they’re the ones constantly claiming that feminists just hate sex (despite evidence to the contrary), giving them the narrative that proving they might want sex somehow makes them hypocrites.

And don’t even get me started on the fact that finally, FINALLY, Josh Duggar — who molested several of his sisters — is suddenly viewed as a bad guy because he had an account here. Admitted child molestation is not a less serious crime than planning on cheating on your wife with zero proof of follow-through.

Just an unstructured thought dump.

Ethical Gamer: Screencheat

Do you remember playing split-screen multiplayer competitive Goldeneye for the N64? I do.

Do you remember people getting horribly upset because you’d recognize what parts of the level they’re in and zero in on them like a guided missile? Yeah, that was me too.

Here’s a game by a dev team called Samurai Punk that takes that slightly-unethical video gaming tactic, one that’d surely win you a swirlie from the bully up the street even while he does it to you constantly, and turns it into a legitimate game mechanic.
[Read more…]

Ethical Gamer: Mercenary Kings

Welcome to my new side-project: The Ethical Gamer. As a hardened Social Justice Warrior (Tank spec) who just hit Level 47, who also happens to be a person who spends an inordinate amount of time on video games and has purchased a large number of Humble Bundles leading to an expansive Steam library, I figured I might as well jam these two facets of my life together somehow. That somehow, as it turns out, is reviews of video games from a social justice perspective.

What could possibly go wrong?

First up, Mercenary Kings. A game that, by all rights, I should absolutely adore, but I’m finding a major struggle just to bring myself to play any more.

[Read more…]

Tortoise helping herself

Seems this tortoise got bored of waiting for her owner to make her a salad, and decided to open the fridge herself.

D’aw. Who’s a good tortoise? Yes, go ahead and eat all the celery and tomatoes and grapes. We didn’t need those. They were there for you anyway. <3

More over at BoingBoing’s perfectly-designed Jason-bait post