Tuesday, February 28, 2012

They've Come for the First...

I saw this on /pol/ linked to RT, but after reviewing the bill's text myself, every word of the article is true.
See this to see for yourself: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr347eas/pdf/BILLS-112hr347eas.pdf

They're taking away our right to peacefully assemble. The House and Senate are finalizing the remedial version to send to Obama. They silently took the 6th with NDAA 2012, and now they've come for the most important aspect of our country - the ability to protest our government. In essence, if you assemble in protest anywhere near *anybody* protected by the Secret Service, you can be fined and imprisoned for 10 years for breaking Federal Law. Want to protest an event Obama is present at? TOO BAD. Want to protest one of the candidates for the GOP who has been granted Secret Service protection? TOO BAD. Want to protest near presidents of foreign nations (Say... the G8 protests coming up?) TOO BAD. It will also be a federal offense to protest near any event Congress deems Nationally Significant (This title was created under Clinton and has included about 3 or 4 dozen events, including States of the Union, Innaugurations, Party Conventions, Super Bowls, etc)

Say goodbye to the first. I'm sure the rest are soon to follow...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Number Stations

I saw a post online today that got me interested in something completely new and different... Number Stations. I've always had a latent interest in some day getting a HAM or Shortwave Radio and learning to use it properly, but I haven't really thought about it intently in recent times. This post asked about info on "Number Stations" and naturally, I fired up trusty Google, and immediately was fascinated. Turns out there are stations across the frequencies that transmit series of seemingly random numbers, letters, or sounds. There are theories abound on what these stations are, but two seem to be the most commonly presented. Either they are encrypted communications between intelligence agencies and spies in the field, or they are transmissions used by drug cartels and other underground networks. Whatever they are, they are bloody *fascinating* to me. The idea of tuning in a short-wave radio and being able to listen to these intelligence or underground transmissions of important data, whether they're one-time use encrypted to be unbreakable by any means or not, seems exhilarating. All this information is buzzing past us as light that is at a non-visible frequency, but it's still there, and able to be seen and listened too... Just not deciphered. Apparently this 'phenomenon' began sprouting up during WWI, and has persisted since. It was extremely prevalent during the Cold War, for obvious reasons. Communicating with spies in a unbreakable code anywhere in the world was probably an extremely useful tool of the time. Even today it is used and must be useful.

Do any of my readers here happen to be into HAM/Shortwave radio? I'd love to learn more about what kind of neat stuff can be done over the airwaves, and potentially buy a radio to get started with picking up some neat stuff (Especially these number stations!)

Here's a video recording of one: (Note I do NOT own or claim rights to this video in any way, shape, or form.)
As you can hear, some can even be quite creepy sounding!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why SWToR < SWG

I'm going to in a bit of a different direction with this here post. I had to write 5 paragraphs tonight about Achilles and the trials and tribulations he went through in the Iliad for tomorrow, so I'm kind of "Wrote-Out"! Thus, I figured I'd go off on something easy to write... going off on a tangent!

So I started playing Star Wars Galaxies about 6 years ago (6th grade, right after the NGE). It wasn't the best game by any means (The NGE apparently killed a lot of the fun), but it defined several years of my adolescence. I resubscribed on and off over the years. I never did max out my character's level, but I had some of my best gaming times in SWG. From pissing around as an annoying storm-trooper middle schooler to my times in an AMAZING Roleplay community, I had my fair share of fun. The Roleplay community was the best, however.

It was attempted two or three times, and fizzled out each time, but proved fun for everybody. The first two, Project Uncle Owen and Project Normal Homestead were the ones that nearly succeeded. In essence, we didn't want to roleplay as soldiers in a war of Jedis and Stormtroopers like pretty much the whole rest of the game. We wanted dynamic, interesting characters we could relate to who were "regular" people. The community decided on a server, and we set out on our Roleplaying adventure. We spent about 3 or 4 hours roleplaying along from a major city on the planet Tattooine to the most desolate location we could find on the map. We built a player city up from scratch. Our own economy developed, and dozens of individual story arcs took hold between our couple dozen characters. The complexities wove extremely deep. I really can't explain it properly. Most roleplay is just "Oh, this is fun. Thanks for escapism guys!" This was like we had a whole other life, and was some of the best gaming experience I've had. (If anybody from PUO or PNH happens to read this, this was brandonman on the forums, jolinar/jolinaya the criminal in-game).

Besides these RP communities, I spent a lot of my free time roleplaying a storm trooper and constantly socializing on the Europe-Chimaera server. I learned quite a bit of European cultural nuances (I use summat and innit quite a bit nowadays!). I made many friends despite my middle-school age. I even had one of my best real-life friends start the game around when I did. Eventually, he quit playing the game and moved away. All of us from town lost contact with him a few months later by email and have never heard from him since... (Alex Clarke, if you see this, hit me up!) I digress. SWG gave me some of the best gaming experiences in my life.

Fast forward to the end of 2011. I heard that it was going to be cancelled in December and got myself resubscribed by the deadline. I planned to max out my character's level in the last 2 months of the game and have some fun on the last day. Well, it turned out, when before there were thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people on the Euro-Chim, there were now *maybe* 15 active at a given time (That was European PRIME TIME!). I was disheartened and didn't attain my leveling goal. Well, the last day came on a Thursday... And I saw the date and logically assumed it would be a Friday as the last day... It wasn't... I missed getting to say goodbye to a game and community that influenced me so much... :(

On to the comparison. I started SWToR with one beta weekend play, and pre-ordered and started it a few days before release. So far, I am EXTREMELY disappointed in this "Successor" to SWG. Everything is ridiculously linear. The story line runs in a line. The planets are a collection of buildings connected by straight closed off paths. SWG was whole planets to explore... Even the SPACE COMBAT is linear. It's seriously like playing a rail-shooter in an arcade. 8 or so years after the initial release of SWG, and this is the best MMO's have to offer? They've digressed in my opinion.

The community aspect has also been poor so far. Several instances split up each planet. Nobody really communicates in any way except "Join my party to finish this quest up". There isn't that sense of allegiance to your server like we had in SWG. We don't really know anybody else on our server. There is no player housing like SWG. We can't have anything like the PUO and PNH projects, which defined two whole summers of beautiful evenings. We can't build our own cities to create camaraderie in guilds or friend circles, or set the scene for fantastic role playing, or even just provide one with a sense of pride in his self or guild. No nothing. The community is just a collection of people running around doing quests and killing each other in PvP here and there.

The game mechanics are completely standard and unimaginative for 2012. Completely linear in my opinion. No sense of community. I'm likely going to drop my subscription as soon as I've maxed out and tasted the end-game... I myself will be keeping an eye on the SWGemu project. Any old Euro-Chim players of SWG, hit me up!

Monday, February 20, 2012

'Twas a Long Break

Hello everybody! I took quite an extended break from blogging, and I do apologize! It'll take me a bit to get back in sync updating you all on the current news of the time, but hopefully I'll hit my groove again! Of course the conflict with Iran is in the limelight right now, as well as the Primaries, so I'll do my best to keep everybody up to date with these! I imagine my next post (Hopefully tonight or tomorrow) will summarize current tensions between the U.S./Israel with Iran.