Sunday, April 7, 2013

cash money money

I realize that I might lose my readership if I keep posting screeshots of bitcoin bubbles; but check this one out:

Thats equivalent to ~1.13M USD.

I feel happy

oh so happy, and witty, and bright!

I know I shouldn't be counting these chickens before they hatch. But I am anyway. And knocking on all the wood within reach. 

Also, how great of an analogy is this:
"Bitcoin being a censorship-resistant honey badger of a currency it just may eat these bankster cobras." source

Yeees. Honey badger. Honey badger should be Bitcoin's mascot; Bitcoin don't give a shit.

Bioshock Infinite

I feel like a dick for posting criticism of its writing before I finished it. It was pretty awesome. Once I put it on Medium difficulty I enjoyed it a lot more; I recaptured that lovely Willful Suspension of Disbelief once I stopped dieing every few steps.

The original Bioshock is renowned for its use of "moral choice;" supposedly it was the first game to put some really gnarly choices in the hands of the players and say "you deal with the consequences." It sort of confronts you with "reality is often ugly, and you're going to be asked to play a role in it, so what kind of person are you going to be?" At least thats what I hear, I haven't (yet) played the original.

But the Bioshock Infinite (the third one) deliberately thumbs its nose at the whole notion. I only saw two actual choices in the game, the first a genuine "moral choice" moment, and the second really just a question of how polite you want to be. Outside of that, theres a sense that events are outside of your control, and that no matter what you choose, things are going to be totally fucked up.

Lets talk about those two moments of choice, though. The first one is at the Raffle. You're on a mission in this extremely jigoist (thats old-fashioned for "nationalistic and racist"), insular society. There's apparently a tradition where everyone at the fair picks a baseball with a number on it, baseballs being symbols for good-old-fashioned wholesomeness. You, the character, happen to pick the winning number! What's your prize? You get to Throw The First Ball! At an interracial couple who are guilty of being interracial!

This is the first point where you get to make a decision, both of which involve throwing the ball. The question is: the target. Do you throw it at the couple who the announcer is encouraging you to publicly castigate?  Or do you throw it at the asshole announcer? I'm happy to say that I have no idea what happens if you choose the former option (unlike in Farcry, I chose the actually good options); but if you choose to do the right thing and stand up against the hate crime, well, then, everyone who was looking forward to participating in a hate crime realizes that you're not one of them and starts the "throw Booker Dewitt off the Island" campaign.

The other "choice point" involves whether or not to demand a ticket from a clerk at gunpoint or to shout at him. Sadly I don't know what the former option results in, in this case, but the latter gets you stabbed in the hand because the clerk is an undercover agent preparing a trap for you. Getting stabbed in the hand was pretty unexpectedly cool, I must say, and I appreciate that the bandaged hand stays with you through the rest of the game.

But on to the more significant, existentially bleak shit. The character's whole motivation is "bring us the girl, wash away the debt." Apparently we were a Pinkerton agent, we've done somethings we'd rather forget, and it seems (in retrospect) that we've done a fairly good job of forgetting a lot of it. The girl we need to bring, it seems, is locked in a tower (tropes!) and has the ability to open wormholes (... latter-day tropes!). She's imprisoned by this world's Joseph Smith, guarded by a giant cyborg (I can only assume building on the first Bioshock's tropes), and her captor drains the power out of her without her knowing. Maybe that last bit has some Marxist "alienation of the worker" shit to it? I dunno.

Anyway, our heroine's wormholes are four-dimensional, meaning they can fuck with causality (as I mentioned last time I talked about the game). At some point she's separated from us, the masculine hero, and we're given an abandonment guilt-trip. We were supposed to be protecting her! Her continuing faith on our return is dashed!

An early bit of dialog between hero and heroine is worth mentioning at this point. Elizabeth asks if we're married. "I was," we say, "but she died. In childbirth." Sad stuff. Elizabeth, sensitive conversationalist she is, asks: "Oh, I'm sorry. So you have a child?"  The voice acting is what really makes the next line from the hero have emotional impact: "No..." he says, voice laden with sadness, bitterness, and regret. The impression you get, it must be obvious, is that both mother and child died in childbirth, and this is the reason for our tacturnity.

But how much worse is the truth, as it turns out. Without belaboring all the delightfully depressing details (I've got to wrap this post up because the original Bioshock has been downloading on my PS3 and is almost ready to play), its all your fault. Accepting responsability means undoing yourself.  Bleeeaaaak.

And pretty entertaining.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


all your bitcoins, give them to me:


Finally figured it out sufficiently to get a wallet set up and purchase some. Also, of course, figured out how to put a widget on my phone that lets me obsessively check the price.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hey, this is fun

Somebody who is smarter than me created a neat website:

Its a visualizer for bitcoin transactions, both inter-network and for fiat currency. The size of the bubble is proportional to the value. See that big one in there, for B278? Do you know what that is in dollars, at the current exchange rate? $32,804. Who the fuck is trading thirty two thousand eight hundred and four dollars worth of stuff on the Internet on a Tuesday evening in April? Is your mind blown? Cause mine sure is.

Oh daaaaaaamn: as I was writing that, this happened:

I'll spare you the calculation; B1,232 = $133,576. What the fuck is going on?

Videeoooo gaaeeeems

Sad to say, I'm not enjoying Bioshock Infinite as much as I expected to. I'm trying to figure out why that is... partially, no doubt, that I've stubbornly set the difficulty its highest setting and I'm dismayed by how ineffective the weapons and spells ("vigors") are. Thats an easy fix, but it pains me to set it to medium; I'm a pro, dammit. Part of what's frustrating is that you can see when you hit the enemies, a hole and a red mark appears on their sprite. But even if that mark is in their /eye/, they'll keep attacking just as hard until their little health meter runs out.

I remember the days when I was satisfied by games, like Quake, where such things were not considerations. Just keep the cursor on the bad guy with the button held down, eventually he'll keel over and die! Its the story of increasing expectations: build more realism into a game and the player starts expecting the rest of it to behave more realistically. Which is seldom what they actually /want/, I suspect. What they (I) want is to be able to ignore realism in convenient ways and not have their skepticism intrude into the fantasy.

The political overtones of the game are amusing at first, but they grow tiresome. We see this worship of the American founding fathers, attitudes of racial and social superiority, and what used to be called "manifest destiny" (currently "American Exceptionalism"); the writers seem to be aiming to inspire contempt for this "Columbian" culture and suggesting with sort of a wink and a nudge that maybe it isn't too far off from current American culture. Thats all fine, as far as it goes, its a sentiment that I largely agree with. But frankly, contempt does not a fun game make.

The "Vox Populi" resistance movement was almost an interesting element, untill it wasn't. I think it boils down to inept handling of a few key plot elements. Granted, its sort of the tradition in rail-shooter games (and, I suppose, games in general) that the character be given some task they MUST complete in order to advance; some secondary goal that enables the main goal to be accomplished. Thats fine; I'd just stipulate that the goals should make sense in the context.
Here the goal is escaping, and the chosen method of escape is an airship. Sensible enough, though a parachute probably would work just as well. Unless this floating city floats exclusively over the sea (which it would be helpful for my suspension of disbelief to establish). So we steal this airship only to have it immediately stolen back from us by Columia's resident freedom fighters, the Vox Populi (hurray for latin! I bet that means "voice of the people!") all resplendant with their red banners and red body paint. Before ejecting us from our erstwhile own airship, they tell us they'll give it back if we can supply them with a revolution's worth of weapons. And we agree. We act like its a moral imperitive to do this, like its a cosmic fact that "giving weapons to violent revolutionaries -> airships", and that laying hands on an armory is an acheivable goal. 
This might be a resonable proposition, had we not just previously stolen the airship from somone else, or if there weren't tons of other flying do-dads in the city, or if we weren't so clearly capapble of just taking whatever we wanted through main force, or if it weren't true that the Vox Populi's main problem is /a lack of guns/. The way /I'd/ like to react to somone throwing me off my airship and demanding tribute for it is rather the opposite of helping out their cause. But, I suppose we were supposed to sympathize with the resistance because the dominant culture is so awful. Columbians hate black and irish people! Not "black irish," which is a thing, but both black people and Irish people. It is amusing to note that this is probably a historically realistic form of bigotrty for certain portions of the American population in the time period (which is the 19-teens, I should mention).

But I digress. The resisitance (inevitably) betrays you, for reasons that only make sense in a parallel universe sort-of-way. The resistance leader, who turns out to be a psychotic murderer (surprise!), is disconcerted by our having come back from the dead (apparently we were somehow a revolutionary hero-martyr in the other universe), and orders her soldiers to use the weapons we've just armed them with to kill us. Poetic justice? I guess. Seems like a hasty descision though; really looking that ole' gift horse in the mouth with, like... a speculum.

Why are there so many stories that warn against fucking with the past? They're like morality tales, but warning about scenarios that are not presently (and probably never will be) an issue. Who in history has been so scarred by past-altering that they spawned a literary genera that warns against it? Actually this probably ties in with warnings about prophecies; which goes back to, as far as I'm aware, Oedepis. I suppose "don't listen to asshole fortune tellers" is a fair lesson to impart.

Anyway, it might be said that what I'm complaining about amounts to this: this video game is not a book, or not written up to the standards of I'd expect to see in a major book.  So why don't I just go and read a book? Thats actually exactly what I did, I went and read Rant, which was waaaay more entertaining. But why did I enjoy Farcry 3 so much more, despite the fact that it, too, is not a book? I may just have been in a more facilitative state of inebriation, but I do think it has more to do with the qualities of the game, which I've already nattered on about.

April fools

Very funny, Tech Crunch.

I would have been disconcerted by this had I not just checked the price like ten seconds before, and the price was emphatically not plummeting. The link was  a 404 error though.