thessalian: (Missing the Point)
I have been quiet. I am fully aware of this. There has not been much to say or I just haven't really wanted to get into it. That and I didn't really want to dump a whooooooooole bunch of "I played Mass Effect 2 and flailed immensely" on my LJ/DW.

...I saved that for Tumblr.

And in fact, most of the flailing I am likely to do concerning ME3 will also be found on Tumblr. I have played it. I do like it. I am a little worried that my graphics card is not handling it overly well. There are moments that made me really happy. There has been only one minor problem: spoilers.

It happened before the game even came out. This is more or less to be expected, but I had safeguards against that! Look, it was really simple; I kept it to Tumblr, wherein a little Greasemonkey app called Tumblr Saviour actually blocked any posts marked with appropriate tags. And most people were actually really good about tagging posts. Text posts, anyway. Screencap posts that gave away recurring characters who would have been a really nice surprise had they actually been a surprise? Reblogs of other people's posts? Their replies to replies they got to their posts? Not everyone checked those. Eventually I had to unfollow those people for a few days until I got the game.

And then there's the other one. I have been liveblogging ME3 (under all appropriate tags, and being very careful that everything I post on the subject - reply, reblog, whatever - has those tags) and I expressed an opinion. This individual did not agree with my opinion. She said so. I conceded the point and expressed my intent to keep an open mind but that I stuck by my opinion. This apparently was the prompt she needed to explain to me the basics of a conversation I might (emphasis might) strike up later on in game, because knowing about the conversation I won't be having until later would surely get me to drop this clearly erroneous opinion. I asked her to please drop it because knowing about the conversation and the kinds of things things that the other character would say therein counted as a spoiler, however vague. The response: "It wasn't a spoiler! I just wanted to let you know what was coming up!"

...Does that strike anyone else as the textbook definition of a spoiler?

I am debating whether to unfollow, block or just confront this person. She seems nice but she is one of those people who goes on the offensive when someone disagrees with her opinions on matters fandom-related. I am side-eyeing her with extreme prejudice right now. But that's not a decision I am going to make right now because I have been up all night. Yes, I took the day off to play ME3. I know myself too well. I wasn't tired until 20 minutes ago.

Cut for spoilers. )

I need coffee or a nap or something. Actually, I need food in the house.
thessalian: (Rant)
Yes, I am still whittering about Mass Effect. Sorry. At least there's some actual social commentary involved.

So last night I manned up and did the one thing that anyone who's played Mass Effect knows to dread: I drove the Mako. For those of you who don't play, picture this: you have a six-wheeled ATV whose suspension has to survive getting dropped from a moving spaceship, at least according to the cutscene. (Why the hell didn't they just actually land?) Anyway, end result is a monstrosity that handles like a bumper car and has pogo sticks for suspension. Guess how much fun this generally is to drive.

As it turns out, I'm not horrible at it. It takes a delicate touch on the A and D keys and I'm still not entirely sanguine about going backwards, but aside from an unfortunate 'I ran over a space monkey' incident on Hercules (I think it was Hercules, anyway), I actually did pretty well, considering how terrified I was.

The rest of it? Noooooot so hot. I'm finding that playing an Adept is complicated beyond reason and I'm not entirely sure how to use any of the special bits and bobs you get for the techies or the biotics beyond Barrier. I'm pondering starting over again, this time with Soldier (plain old gun-bunny) or Infiltrator (gun-bunny with tech). The problem is that even on Casual, the fights happen too fast in areas that are too poorly-lit and I end up flailing. A lot. This decision was made during a particularly unpleasant set of firefights with renegade biotics on a cargo vessel and geth in an abandoned mine respectively. I'm better at shooting things. I should really stick with shooting things. I could be a sniper. That'd be fun.

(Also, [ profile] madzilla has flagged up the Super Armour and Super Gun mods. Yeeeeeees, I'll be having those...)

On a related note, ME3 spoilers are going up and while I don't entirely understand them, I am getting ideas about them from stuff I've read while looking for ways to not die horribly every time I enter combat. There is one thing that I do understand, though, and this is not so much a spoiler as a thing that should have been fairly obvious from how EA/Bioware has been dealing with the whole 'FemShep marketing' thing to date: ME3 is apparently suffering from a near-terminal case of Dudebro Syndrome.

Dudebro Syndrome: Where a piece of entertainment media conforms so strongly to the sexist tropes on offer, up to and including, "We can't be sexist! Our girls kick ass! Fine, in ludicrous poses and unrealistic outfits so that they can conform to our fantasies, but we gave you girls who fight, what more do you want?" that it honestly feels unwelcoming for women. It's basically the "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" sign on the treehouse that is modern entertainment media.

They haven't made any secret of it, either. In the bits and pieces I've seen, the blurbs about character redesign have emphasised an increase strength and experience for the men ... and an increase in sexiness for the women. And let's face it; it didn't start with Ashley; it started with FemShep. When they made the decision to market ME1 and ME2 exclusively with a male Shepard, they didn't bother anyone about what he looked like - he looked rugged and manly because some demographic said that's what they wanted. They based him on the default male Shepard you get in game. Then, after three games (I am counting DA2 in this because of the Bioware connection), they finally decided to say, "We're going to do some trailers and marketing with a female Shepard!" Which got us all celebrating ... except instead of just giving us the default female Shepard, they made a beauty contest on Facebook to let us decide what FemShep would look like.

Devs, please.

And of course, we still haven't seen so much as a single bit of promo material featuring the female Shepard whose looks were so important that it merited such goings-on on Facebook. They keep saying it's coming 'soon'. Um ... yeah, but ... so's the f'ing game! I know it feels like forever away for those who are waiting for preorders etc, but March is not that far away, guys! The demo's coming out in a couple of weeks and we still haven't seen a single shred of promotional material featuring a female Shepard at all! There is a fan-made trailer featuring a female Shepard and it is the most brilliant thing ever; I'll link to it when I'm not at an outdated work computer.

So ... everything to do with the male characters is "100% more rugged and gritty and strong and experienced!" Everything to do with women is "100% sexier!" I'm not sure why they're going to such great lengths to alienate the female fans by ... well, there's no other way to put it but 'pandering to the Stereotypical Straight White Male Gamer', but I have a theory: The response they got to Dragon Age 2, which was more inclusive than most games of its type in terms of sexuality and gender roles, was relatively underwhelming and, since that underwhelming response couldn't possibly be because they rushed out the game in a year and thus put out an unbalanced, handwavey rush job instead of the brilliant game we know they can make, they decided that it was because they were being too inclusive. ME3 is to Bioware/EA what a Ferarri is to a middle-aged man: OVERCOMPENSATION. Or it's to make up for giving those poor souls, male or female, who aren't all that good at gaming the 'story' and 'RPG' modes on top of the 'action' modes, lest people think they've somehow unmanned themselves by not making it universally impossible to complete unless you're a frag god or you cheat like hell.

Look, y'all know I love Bioware's ability to tell a decent story. I yell at the screen when I play these things that I don't do for very much else, and that's a good thing. However, this whole thing where Mass Effect is Bioware's "hardcore gamer" game (where "hardcore gamer" seems to universally mean "the Stereotypical Straight White Male") whereas Dragon Age is their 'fluffy fantasy property' that can afford to feel inclusive to people who aren't the Stereotypical Straight White Male. It's like someone out there thinks we're still in primary school and has made the typical gender divides of "Fearless Space Marines are for boys, castles and magic are also for boys but girls can have those too, I guess". And I'm tired of it.

Also, I swear the first person who explains to me in comments about how "I get where you're coming from, but they are protecting their demographic..." is not going to be on my happy list for awhile. I've heard that argument before and I hate it too. The idea that appealing to one demographic has to involve belittling and alienating another is repugnant. If you're honestly telling me that the 'core demographic' would refuse to buy the game if the females therein weren't shaped and dressed like the wet dream of a thirteen-year-old Star Trek fan with a low-key D/s fetish, then it is my feeling that the 'core demographic' is too shallow and narrow-minded to appreciate what they're being given in the first place. They have produced great games with great stories, have Bioware, and they should be let to stand on their own merits without having to so blatantly pander to a target demographic that's only the majority because of crap like this in the first place.

Okay, rant over. Sorry. Well, actually, no I'm not, but...


Jan. 23rd, 2012 09:49 am
thessalian: (facepalm)
Another week, another new department. I swear, it's like they think that if they shift me around enough, I'm going to forget about wanting to get shot of this place.

The latest is that ... well, having moved to the new department, I had to go in and pick up some of my bits and bobs from the last department. Who in turn told me that there were some 'loose ends' to tie up. Said 'loose ends', by the way, involve printing out, photocopying, posting and filing every letter I've typed in that department. But I can't actually do it in that office, oooooooh no. No, that would be sensible. Instead, I am forced to use OtherDepartment resources to print and post all those letters, and then stay late when the office is empty to sit down and do the filing. So I don't get in anybody's way.

If I'm going to be in people's way, wouldn't it be easier for them to do it? Or at least the person for whom I have been covering for the past week and a half? Or something? Instead I'm being saddled with the work of two departments because ... I don't honestly know why. AND WOMAN FROM OTHERDEPARTMENT HAS JUST CALLED TO CHECK ON ME WTF. After an hour and a half goes by, you kind of get to thinking that maybe I'd have called them if I was having problems logging on to the system and signing things off, wouldn't you?

Also, I hate the departments where the secretaries work right next to actual clinic space. It's noisy, it reeks of disinfectant and it drives me bugnuts.

I need to get gone before I pull an Anders or something.

In other news, I am finally over the flu bug from hell, I hit level 85 on Warcrack and am now faced with a moderate case of the 'NOW whats?' - only 'moderate' because I am in the middle of three quest chains, I am determined to be able to afford my Expert Riding achievement, I have professions to level and I want to jack up my Rep with the various factions - and I need more weekend.

That is all, thank you.
thessalian: (Rant)
So ... I don't really like linkspam posts; I always figure that the point of a blog is to actually say shit. But I have to start with linkspam because honestly, I don't even know where to begin anymore.

So let's start with ACTA. This is a 'trade agreement' that has already been formally signed by European governments. It goes before the European Parliament soon - very, very soon. Apparently, being transparent about exactly what is going on and the process by which this thing is going to hit would 'severely interfere with the complex ratification process' ... by which I assume they mean that if people actually understood this, they would not want it and would ask that it not actually be ratified. But at its essence, we've heard it before - this is the one that makes ISPs and access providers legally responsible for policing the traffic of their users, and shut down those who infringe. Considering that this would punish the innocent as well as the guilty, and is a gross invasion of privacy besides, it's actually terrifying that it's being pushed through as a trade agreement despite imposing legal sanctions, and is essentially bypassing the democratic process entirely.

The words 'WHAT THE FUCK?!?' come to mind.

Also, the US shouldn't celebrate the end of SOPA and PIPA yet. Not only are these still more or less being discussed (Obama just doesn't like the language; he didn't like the language of NPAA either at first, and he hasn't vetoed it yet), there's the Protecting Children from Internet Pornography Act. This would oblige ISPs to monitor everything done on the internet by its customers and keep records of everything - internet activity, addresses, bank details, IP addresses you've been assigned, everything - for eighteen months. Who gets to look at this information? The government, on request. Note the word 'warrant' is not mentioned at any point. This ... there are no words for this.

Then there's Chris Dodd of the MPAA, calling out those politicians that pretty much screams at those politicians to whom he's thrown financial support to 'stay bought'. Now, campaign donations are one thing, but out and out saying that the politicians can expect an end to those donations if they don't do exactly what he says strikes me as Dodd shooting himself in the foot. He says this like he expects no legal repercussions from a near-direct admission that his 'campaign donations' are just plain bribes. And the worst part? He probably isn't going to see any legal repercussions.

And coming back to the UK, where undercover police infiltrate and sabotage protest groups, to the point where they establish long-term relationships with activists, have children with said activists under their aliases and then vanish, to only receive word of their children by police reports. And ... this is okay, somehow? The kids thing is one thing - despicable and wrong, but one thing. But to openly admit that undercover police are infiltrating legitimate protest groups to sabotage them? When our last protest march looked like something out of V for Vendetta?

Voting has failed. Political protest is being crippled at every opportunity. The people who are running the show are now openly admitting to the measures they'll take to get what they want, and 'what they want' is clearly not synonymous with 'the will of the people who elected them'. What exactly do we have to do to take the power back?

A friend of mine on Tumblr was saying that she was sick to the back teeth of reading about SOPA and PIPA, about how it wouldn't be the end of the world even if these things did pass. But with the shit we're already finding out about - the stuff that gets outed in the news and goes entirely unpunished - are we really expected to believe in 'if you've nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear'? So-called democratic governments, much like honey badger, do not give a shit about the people who elected them. They have no shits to give. And now we're pretty clear on the fact that whoever we elect is bought, and expected to stay bought ... not to mention that every avenue of protest against this state of affairs is going to be spied on, sabotaged and shut down at any opportunity, and by any means necessary. Now, I know that it's always been that way, but it's getting more corrupt and more obvious and this is not what it's supposed to be like! Do we really want to live like this?

What is it going to take to make government 'by the people and for the people' again?
thessalian: (Rant)
[ profile] yuki_onna recently posted a blog-link from Charles Stoss (which I can't link to right now because the computer I'm using at work is shit, but I'll fix that when I get home) about what the future's going to look like in 20 years, and in 80 years. Given these are speculative fiction writers doing the telling, a lot of it is probably pretty trustworthy, and it's enough to give people a pretty serious case of the depressions as we realise that a lot of jobs are going to be replaced by technology.

But nowhere near as many as this article seems to think.

Consider my profession - I am a secretary. People have been trying to automate this job until I am obsolete for decades! Computers found their way into the office predominantly because a computer meant that boss-types could feasibly handle things on their own - their own correspondence via email, for a start - and thus negate the need for a secretary. I have never met a doctor who answers their own email. I know several who won't even look at it until it's been printed out and handed to them. Word processing programme? They'll use it at home all the time but in the office, it's gathering dust. They don't have the time. They're too busy running around seeing patients. And gods forbid they ever pick up the phone.

Now, maybe one day a computer will be able to do all those things, but it's already fallen at the first hurdle - namely, voice transcription software. It works wonderfully from text to voice, but the other way around? It really doesn't do very well with accents. The software advertising blurb says that it's supposed to get to grips with a specific user's accent and specific terminology, but it doesn't generally speaking work very well. It actually takes longer to dictate something and then have a secretary go back and fix all the mistakes the software made than it does to just have a human being type it in the first place. And let's not talk about the fact that most of the doctors of my acquaintance need their entire sentence structure rearranged to make their letters make the remotest bit of sense - and I'm not just talking about the non-native English speakers here.

Look, there's a lot of stuff that computers can do that humans can't, but most of that is to do with speed rather than ability. Give us world enough and time, and we can calculate large numbers - we know the principles, at least. Thus we programme a computer to use those principles, and it can do it faster than we can. The problem with speech recognition is that it doesn't really have principles in that sense. We don't pronounce words or phrases the exact same way every time. Most humans have a hard time deciphering someone who's mumbling into a microphone, and computers can only work with what we give them. If what humans give them is unworkable ... well. Computers don't work all that well at guessing through context. Xref: Word for Windows Spelling and Grammar Checker.

As for the rest ... well, the first time something with an automated driver crashed, the lawsuits would be epic. Epic enough to make no other company want to take the risk ever again. Computers fail. They get infected with viruses. They short-circuit. They inexplicably die. They do weird shit that no one thought was possible! And people are still making them, and since they'll be commercial commodities, the manufacturers will cheap out. Yes, even on life-saving equipment. Humans may be fallible, but so are computers, and when a human fucks up, a company can place the blame on that person. If a manufacturer's product screws up, the manufacturer takes the blame. No one wants that in this age of cronyism. Humans make better scapegoats.

My real depression comes when you combine the climate issues (because let's face it; that ship has sailed and all we can do is try like hell not to make it any worse, which of course we're not doing) with the iron fist rule governments in supposedly democratic countries are trying to impose while talking about "democracy for all!" I figure that by 2032, I'm going to be living in an underground bunker somewhere, organising the supplies for the resistance and telling stories to the kids so they have some distraction from the fear. I will come bearing printouts of fan fiction and an iPod that I can charge once a week and play for a couple of hours a day, through my iPod dock, for morale purposes. 'Cos gods know I'm not a combatant.

No. Seriously.
thessalian: (Rant)
I am not in a great mood. There are multiple reasons for this. One of the main ones, however, is EA, who have once again gone out of their way to prove that they are more than willing to annoy the living shit out of their customers.

So this weekend, I thought that Sims 3 might be feeling a little neglected, so I switched it on as something to do in between bouts of WRITE ALL THE THINGS (which didn't happen as much as I'd have liked due to lingering bad mood). There was a patch. I installed the patch, then played. It loaded slow, as always, but eventually I got to the Create-a-Sim screen and set to work. All was going fine - I'd fixed the face so that it didn't look quite so ... um ... malformed - and then I went to pick a hairstyle.

At the very top, where you couldn't miss it, were the Sims Store's top three buys of the week or month or whatever. Outlined in gold so that they'd catch the eye. Buttons were gold too, and basically screaming, "CLICK HERE TO SPEND MONEY! LOOK! WE MADE IT EASIER FOR YOU TO BUY OUR STUFF AND THIS ANNOYING GOLD EYE-CATCHING STUFF-YOU-DON'T-HAVE IS JUST GOING TO SIT HERE AND PISS YOU OFF EVERY TIME YOU SWITCH ON THE GAME UNLESS YOU BUY IT!"

I ... was not impressed.

It wasn't just the hair, either. Every. Single. Category of clothing, with the exception of accessories, had three big gold "BUY ME!" button-items at the top of the screen. I was more or less livid. I have spent enough money on this game - on the base game and the expansions and the stuff packs and the occasional splurge on Sims points - that I expect to be allowed to play the damn game in peace without being asked to spend money while I'm playing.

But I got through it with a relative minimum of teeth-grinding and made my Sim and her pet cats. Then I moved them into a house and proceeded to redecorate.

...This "SPEND REAL MONEY!" shit? It's in the Buy Mode too. So now you can spend real money on the fake furniture while you're playing, too. And are, in fact, strongly encouraged (nay, even badgered) to do so while just trying to play the game you've already spent a fair wodge of real cash to enjoy in the first place. I didn't even have the heart to see if that held true for wallpapers and things. I just ragequit.

I also notice that the patch notes don't say a damn thing about them saddling us with this shit. I AM DISPLEASED. At least be up-front about your utterly arrogant intrusive cash-grab, you toffee-nosed, shit-eating babbons' backsides!

The worst part about all this is that I cannot actually get away with not ever supporting EA ever again. Look, they own Bioware. I want to support Bioware. Bioware has provided me with endless entertainment and gave me a fandom again, if indirectly. But if I support Bioware, I am supporting EA too. This displeases me. I don't want EA to have my money. I want Bioware to have my money. But I can't give my money to Bioware without benefitting EA and it sucks.

It's like EA cannot bear anyone else having any money ever in the entire world; they must have ALL THE MONEY ... at the expense of the people giving them ALL THE MONEY. I mean, the game's not there to be played by the people who actually bought it already - oh no. The game is there to make money. So why not dig into the source code and, under the guise of making the game less buggy, add in a little bonus intrusive marketing bullshit? Because you know people are going to click those buttons by accident. Maybe they can't spend money unwittingly, but it'll annoy them enough that they might just buy the crappy custom content to make it go away ... which it will until the next patch, if not sooner.

I love Sims, but the one thing I play it for - the creation of custom characters and living spaces - has become more irritating than I like. So I honestly don't know what to do anymore. I wish they'd just knock it the hell off already.
thessalian: (Missing the Point)
I've been thinking on and off about SOPA lately. I think most of you are aware of the "Stop Online Piracy Act" by this point, though why I'm assuming that I'm not entirely sure. I still haven't seen a single f'ing mention of it in any major news outlet - not the BBC, not the Guardian, certainly not the Metro, and I don't think it's that different in the US than it is here.

And oddly? It's this silence that makes me as virulently anti-SOPA as I am.

Look, it's like this: SOPA gives the power to have entire sites shut down on just a suspicion of copyright infringement. No investigation, no innocent-until-proven, and certainly no time to take down that single bit of offending material. Whole site can just be shut down until it's sorted out whether the site owner is guilty of copyright infringement or not. That could take months.

Imagine doing that to LJ. "Oh, someone posted a screencap!" or something equally stupid. Or Tumblr. Or Twitter. Or any of the ways that we as information-loving folks have actually spread word about things like SOPA (and, prior to that, the NDAA) in the first place. Without those, most of us would have no idea about this sort of shit, because the big media franchises sure as hell aren't covering it, no matter how newsworthy it is.

We don't really need evidence of how far into each other's pockets the news media corporations and the politicians are at this point. While journalists were once proud of being the ones who broke Watergate wide open, the folks who get employed in Big News these days are generally the ones who accept and revel in the fact that a large percentage of the people seem to care more about a politician's genitalia and what they're doing with said genitalia than policy. The only ones who seem to actually care about the shit that matters, instead of just the shit that sells, are the ones who aren't being paid for it - or at least, not getting paid well. The internet is not just for porn, or for piracy - it's the only place freelancers have left to actually talk about actual substantial news ... well, at least that isn't the Podunk Times out of Nowhere, Middle America, anyway.

So the media corporations follow the spin of their pet politicians, who in turn pass legislation that serves the interests of their media corporation meal ticket, and it's this cronyistic cycle wherein we're all fed a bunch of crap that claims to be independent journalism but isn't and no one ever sees the Truth (a la Spider Jerusalem) ever again. There isn't even a hope of triangulating on the truth without bloggers poking their noses into every available bit of information out there and comparing stories. And you just know that blog host sites are going to end up going down the next time someone wants to pass some disgusting bit of legislation like the NDAA, if SOPA passes. And it'll take forever to get them back up and by that time, there'll be a nice shiny new violation of civil liberties reducing the Bill of Rights to toilet paper yet again with no hope of any input from ... y'know, the people. Because Fox News and CNN weren't going to talk about it and the independent blogging news folks couldn't, so no one would know.

Maybe this is paranoia talking, but ... seriously. When no newspaper or news site will mention SOPA at all but it's clearly everywhere online ... I am leery of a bill that will let people shut down entire websites on mere suspicion. I live in a world that looks more and more like Mira Grant's "Newsflesh" every day (just without the fun of zombies) - the bloggers are the rising stars of real journalism because they still seem to care about truth and freedom of expression, rather than just panem et circenses. And what happens to them when the internet is subject to such immediate, 'guilty until proven innocent' censorship as SOPA allows? It has unfortunate side effects.

There are so many other ways to fight online piracy without this. Most of them involve the companies in question revising their business models to fit the 21st century. Universal release dates, no region-specific crap, and maybe letting us transfer the media we've paid for to whatever format we see fit without crippling our computers with crappy DRM code. I imagine that TV channels would make way more money letting people subscribe to an online on-demand viewing channel (with the added bonus of ad revenue) than they ever have from ad revenue from things aired on TV and subscription charges from the cable channels. But even if the folks at Warner or Disney or wherever else actually realised this (which they probably don't because the people making these decisions probably still blame the VCR for fucking everything up for their market share), I don't think it'd fly. Too many elements of government, US or otherwise, have too vested an interest in silencing mainstream media sources to let the ability to censor the internet without looking like they're doing so slide so easily.

Put it to you like this: David Seaman had his Twitter account suspended because of OWS and NDAA-related tweets - and while Twitter seems to have tried to explain that, he's not alone. Just because you're paranoid, and all that...

People can talk about "if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear" all they want. But the implications of all this, viewed in the light of things already happening, look pretty fucking scary to me.
thessalian: (facepalm)
"Opinions are like testicles: you kick them hard enough, doesn't matter how many you've got."
--Varric Tethras

This quote has come to mind a lot lately, as I've been lurking Tumblr the last ... what, couple of months? (Hi, fellow Tumblrs!) Tumblr's got the best bits of Livejournal (decent character limit, immediacy of picture posting rather than link-clicky) and Twitter (encouragement of brevity, immediacy of update so you're not spamming F5, easy reblogging), but it also has the worst bits of both venues ... which are frankly the same worst bits of every online community: the "audience + anonymity = arsehole" factor.

Add fandom, and it becomes a complete f'ing disaster area.

Fandom is great. Really, I love it. It allows like-minded people to enjoy the thing they love, as in-depth as they want to make it, in the company of their peers. People have opinions! Opinions are good! ...Well, mostly they're good. I mean, they're all valid; just some of them are made on some really flawed and frankly arseholeish grounds. Like, "This character I think is really really hot hooks up with this skanky nympho whore character and I think it's really gross!" ... for example. If you can't see a pairing, that's entirely up to you (or at least it should be; more on that later). If you can't see a pairing and think it's somehow so disgusting that you have to use that kind of dehumanising language to encompass your hatred and indirectly tar everyone who likes that pairing with the same brush? That's not cool. In that case, if I was going to speak against that opinion, it'd be about the language and grounds for the dislike, not the dislike itself.

...Mostly because I'm a little bit sick of being judged for not getting or liking some pairings and characters myself. I dislike the idea that every character with a passionate relationship - friendly or antagonistic, sibling or close friend, any relationship - automatically has to be screwing with the other party. However, the difference is, I don't hate ships of that nature - I just don't get it, and I don't seek it out. When asked, I'll say I don't get it and I will explain why in terms that don't actively call someone names for daring to like something that I don't understand. If no one asks, then it never has to even come up because I'm not going to jump on anyone who sees something I don't. It's their headcanon, not mine. I reserve the right to disagree - politely - and extend them the same courtesy.

Are people so sensitive about the opinions of others that, when given the chance to attack anyone who disagrees (that won't get them a smack in the mouth, I mean), they'll take it without hesitation? Is it so important that everyone agree with them that they'll lash out at people who don't? Are they that insecure, that desperate for validation?

I will lash out at people who act like bigoted, abusive, narrow-minded fuckheads, in the main. But I'm not going to lash out at someone who thinks that two fictional characters are boning when I disagree. I'm not that insecure, and I feel sorry for those who are that insecure. They can get the hell off my Tumblr dashboard, though. I don't need hate for my opinions, when I am expressing them in a non-hateful way. (Thankfully none of them do thus far, but you know what I mean.)

In other news, my belf pally discovered Deepholm last night. It's like Hellfire Peninsula, but worse. So far my main choices for completing my crawl to level 85 on my main are Underwater Nightmare (which is at least pretty), ForestForestForOHLOOKFLAMINGDEATH! (which has some pretty), or the Bowels of the Earth. Well, at least the XP is good in Deepholm, from the few little quests I actually did last night.

Also, I'm still ill. Still dragging myself into this blighted job feeling like hell every day. I think I'll be glad of the Christmas holidays mostly because of the four-day weekend it allows me. Blegh.
thessalian: (Rant)
Friday thank the gods...

I got through the vast majority of this week on coffee, vitamin C and OTC cold and flu meds, which didn't help a lot but at least muted the symptoms somewhat. I know by all rights I should go back and shake antibiotics out of someone but I really don't fancy spending forever in a waiting room only to be dismissed again. Besides, I can't really afford the time that'd take off work. So ... yeah, I'm more or less flat right now. I will probably spend a lot of the weekend asleep. This will be a good thing, provided I don't forget to do little things like grocery shopping.

On the other hand, maybe being as sick as I have been is a good thing from the point of view of getting through the job. I'm too worn out to focus too much on the stupid that is my job half the time. I don't entirely understand how it happens that people end up dictating on side 2 of a tape before they dictate on side 1. I'm never sure whether it's the secretaries just not rewinding properly (unlikely, as side 1 has invariably been wiped) or ... I don't know. All I know is that it's annoying and a little worrisome when I put a tape into side 1, hear nothing and have to wonder if I've wiped it by mistake or someone put the wrong tape in the envelope or what. It seems a small thing, but try telling busy consultants that they have to redictate their clinic. Hell, actually try nailing a registrar to the floor long enough to tell them anything.

Though the tape I started yesterday was a doozy. It at least started on side 1 but as I worked my way through the letters, I noted that the letters I was typing corresponded to none of the sets of notes that had turned up with the blasted tape. I checked the patient history for one of the patient letters I'd typed; their attendance record corresponded to the clinic listed on the envelope the tape came in. So when I finished the tape, I looked up the patient history of one of the patients I did have notes for. Turns out that there are two different clinics for slightly different specialities run by the consultant with the aid of the registrars on that particular day, and he'd put the wrong envelope with the wrong pile of notes. So now that I've typed the bloody thing, I have to go downstairs, try to find the pile of notes that match, file the letters I've typed and then type the letters that actually go with the set of notes on my desk. If that sounds complicated ... well, imagine how I feel.

(Oh, good, and one of my consultants got another new reg. Heavy accent, no particular grasp of English sentence structure. At least it looks like a short tape...)

The faux-Christmas Winterveil thing on Warcrack started last night, apparently. I'll have to check that out when I get home, if I have the energy. Mostly I haven't had the energy to do much of anything when I get in, beyond faff around on Tumblr. I'd like that to change. But then again, I have to get my main out of the underwater quest chain nightmare in which she is currently immersed (no pun intended) before I can celebrate much of anything over in Azeroth. I suppose I could just celebrate it on one of my alts; my Goblin Shaman's in Orgrimmar at the moment... But I'd really rather do this sort of thing on my main, so eh. Of course, I could just use it as an excuse to ditch the underwater quest chain altogether and hit Mount Hyjal instead, but that feels like giving up. Then again, I'm playing for fun, not aggravation. I don't need Warcrack to do pointless shit for money and experience; I just have to go to work.

So I'm hearing about the NDAA and SOPA, but I'm mostly hearing about it over Twitter and from a few American news sources. You'd think that news like this would make it over here, but the Metro, at least, has nothing on it. This kind of terrifies me, particularly when the articles I've managed to find on SOPA suggest that it's not the people or even the government who are going to decide this one, but the multimedia conglomerates. As for the NDAA ... that more than 'kinda' terrifies me. I remember being so thrilled that Obama got elected, and now there's this. It's like how I felt when Blair got in, but somehow worse. I just kind of wonder what it's going to take, y'know? We the people are being systematically removed from the decision-making process all over the place, systematically ignored and basically trodden on, like we're obstacles to get around rather than ... y'know, constituents, voters etc. I'm getting this 1984 feeling where the perfect representative image of the future is a boot stamping on a human face forever. We need to take the power back before we're no longer capable. If that means more riots ... well, so be it. At this point, I'd rather civil unrest and living in a riot zone than living the rest of my life with a jackboot on my neck.

The real issue for me is that there's nowhere for me to go, really. I live here, where the coalition government seems to be hell-bent on making life untenable (between the cuts, the threats of NHS privatisation, the stripping of our right to peaceful protest and the systematic destruction of the economy) for everyone but the top 1%. There's the US, with NDAA and SOPA threatening to make a serious mockery of 'the land of the free and the home of the brave'. I could go home to Canada, but that whole thing where Muslim women have to remove their niqab at their swearing-in ceremonies just makes me want to throw things (and reminds me too much of my mother saying that all head and face coverings of that type should be banned because 'there could be a criminal under there!' - I weep for a certain generation of my countrymen). Sickening breaches of civil liberties are everywhere, and there really does not seem to be anywhere to go to just live free, or at least governed by people with the people's best interests at heart.

Can I hand back my membership to the human race? I ... could be a gnome. (Gnooooooooooome...)
thessalian: (facepalm)
Dear registrars,

I understand that you somehow feel that you are above and beyond the digital dictation system and that you must dictate everything on tiny transcription cassettes. Fine. However, there are a few rules that should really apply if you're going to circumnavigate a system that's put in place for your own benefit.

1) If you do not have a dictaphone, find one.
1a) Ditto dictaphone tapes.

2) If you are going to borrow a dictaphone from your colleagues, take their tape out of it first.

3) If you cannot find a tape and insist on dictating an entire clinic on top of the one the other registrar has already dictated on that tape, for the love of every god, mark it down on the tape's envelope.

4) Likewise ... leave us the gods-damned notes for the clinic you just dictated.

If you do not follow these simple rules, the following things are very likely to happen.

- Secretary finishes typing long clinic
- Secretary notes that there are no more notes
- Secretary thinks that tape is done
- Secretary erases tape
- Secretary dumps tape back into collective of tapes for use of registrars
- Letters do not get typed
- People get in trouble
- You look like you never dictated it

In other news, I finally dragged myself to the doctor for this vicious 'this is worse than a cold' thing that has been plaguing me for the last three weeks. I don't like seeing doctors for this kind of thing, mostly because it has been amply demonstrated to me that they honestly don't give a shit. You wait two hours for someone to actually see you at all and, despite the symptoms that have not gone away and have only worsened over the last two weeks, I got a shrug and a "come back if it gets any worse". See, there's always a question in these scenarios whether the infection is viral or bacterial. Thing is, if you listen to patient history, it's generally easy to tell which it's likely to be. So, when even a cursory Google search tells you that you're at high risk of things like this being strep throat if your immune system's being overtaxed because of fighting off a cold (which I have been) or by a terrible lot of stress (hello; my job), and the patient tells you that they had a cold a few weeks ago, started showing improvement and then suddenly got worse, odds are high that it's strep throat. I know that we're supposed to be careful about using antibiotics on things that don't need them so as not to breed antibiotic-resistent bugs, but on this one, handing over a penicillin prescription is playing good odds. Except they're not, in this case. I cannot afford to spend another two hours in a waiting room for someone to tell me to do what I was already doing when things got worse.

I should be more charitable, I know that. For the most part, the NHS is there when you need it. It's not the NHS itself I'm annoyed with - it's those parts of it who really don't give a shit so long as they don't get complained about or fired. I've had some bad luck with doctors lately in that I get the ones who handwave stuff I can't afford to just let sit around, and it really puts me off seeing anyone unless it's by ambulance. When it's something like some of the migraine shit I've been going through, or something like strep where the bacterial infection can spread to some pretty important bits of the body if left untreated, that's not the kind of thing I really want to think about.

I see a lot of different sides of the NHS, and I wouldn't be without it, but it does need a major overhaul. Let's start with sacking a few useless managers and all of the individuals who only still have their jobs because of how hard it is to fire people from the NHS (particularly the ones languishing in admin jobs of all pay grades; I'm talking gross incompetence and outright laziness here as sacking offences) and hire people who will actually do their jobs properly.

Essentially, all I want at this point is colleagues who don't linger for 45 minutes over overloud conversations and a qualified medical person who is going to actually pay some attention to the fact that I might actually be sick with something that requires more than paracetamol and vitamin C to treat. I can't afford to be this far off my game, not even if Christmas is coming up. It's not like I get anything but the bank holidays off...
thessalian: (facepalm)
Dear Blizzard,

After about a month of more or less abstinence (because I could not be arsed), I decided to switch on Warcrack again. I went back to Azeroth and sent my belf pally to the soaring heights of level 80. Thank you for the charming little congratulations pack you sent me when I hit level 80, by the way; that was very nice of you. But then, of course, the XP rewards for the mobs I killed in Northrend went way, waaaaaaaaaaay down, and I decided, fuck it, I'll go see what level 80 has in store for me elsewhere in Azeroth.

At first, I dodged your "Hey, there's this new island right off Stormwind and we're gonna occupy it for the Horde and beat the shit out of the Alliance's capital!" quest, because I seriously could not be arsed. However, then I tried the stuff you were throwing at me at Mount Hyjal and decided I wanted to climb a couple more levels before I even touched that shit because I was getting pasted.

I thought I hated Tanaris because it reminded me of Valkurm Dunes. I thought I hated Outland (or at least Hellfire Peninsula) because it was ugly as sin. I thought I hated Northrend because ... well, it started to get old three levels ago. However, I do not hate any of those places as much as I hate the living shit out of this underwater quest chain upon which you have shanghaied me. At least at Mount Hyjal, the enemies did not attack you from all sides, including up and down. I hate underwater. Even if I do have a 'breathe underwater' spell on my character right now.

Also ... you just did a patch, people. I know because it still hasn't fully finished downloading. So please explain to me why the hell there is still a bug in a specific quest, which has been an issue for at least a year, where completion of the quest relies entirely on you committing character suicide? Seriously; apparently you do not get the credit for quest completion - signalling a fellow shipwreck victim to let her know that she can come to safety - unless your character dies. HOW THE HELL DOES THAT INDICATE SAFETY?!?

Sort it out, Blizzard. SORT IT OUT.

A Blood Elf Paladin somewhere underwater.
thessalian: (Rant)
Free schools and academies must promote marriage.


Look, there's nothing wrong with a heteromonogamous marriage ... if it is a good, stable heteromonogamous marriage. Sometimes they aren't. When they aren't, they should end. Anyone who stays together in any relationship 'for the sake of the children' is, in my opinion, being either selfish or simplistic. It is not good for any child to grow up in a household where the two people upon whom they rely for stability and comfort end up fighting over the least little thing, contradicting each other at every turn or, at best, maintain an air of cool acquaintanship and little more around one another. Children pick up on that shit, and however hard it may be to field the questions like, "But why don't you and Daddy love each other any more?" or "Is it my fault that Mummy went away?", it's a lot less psychologically damaging to any kid to be honest with them. Otherwise, you get, "Mummy and Daddy are really unhappy and it's my fault because me being here doesn't let them do what they want!" And don't think your kids won't know. They hear more than you think, they pick up more than you think and overall, they're not stupid.

And then we have other forms of stable relationship. And I'm not just talking same-sex couples, either; I mean stable poly relationships as well. People who love each other, have lived together for years and years, and the only reason they haven't got the legal bits of paper saying "Booya! Married!" is because the government is narrow-minded. Maybe the child isn't blood-related to one or more people within the relationship, but in the end, I don't see anything wrong with that. I see, "Hey, here's this person, they're in love with my parent - who has to love me because, hey, they're my parent - and they love me too, even though they don't have to!" From a kid's perspective, here's an adult who has a perfect 'get out of jail free' card for all those chores they know are annoying - parent-teacher conferences, doctor's appointments, field trip chaperonage, school volunteer stuff, pick-up and drop-off for other-birth-parent visitation, homework help, 'eat your greens' lectures, Saturday morning cartoons, etc etc etc - but they don't use it. Yes, kids are savvy enough to pick that up as love, even if they never show it and it's mixed in with resentment. (Let's face it, kids will play the 'you're not my real parent!' card if they can ... and take it from me, they'll feel really bad about it if the step-or-something-parent-ish really loves them. I've pulled that one on a live-in lover of my mother's who really loved me, and I apologised. I did it with my current stepfather and I still don't feel bad about it. There's a big difference.)

On the whole, I don't see why the government can't get to grips with the fact that really, neither the adults nor the children in any given relationship give two shits about what bits of legal documentation say, beyond the fact that withholding those bits of paper from certain life-partnerships makes their lives unbearably difficult. They don't feel any more or less committed because of some quasi-religious ceremony and/or signing of documents; I think people generally just want that kind of thing so that they can share their happiness with their friends and family, announce their love for and commitment to one another to the entire world and not get shafted by a system that continuously robs non-heteromonogamous partnerships of their rights to, for example, be there for their partner(s) if they end up dying in hospital, or not have to deal with really shitty probate laws that discriminate against any relationshp lacking a marriage certificate.

Anyway, who does it hurt to legally recognise gay couples? Or committed poly relationships? All it hurts is a status quo that we haven't needed ... well, ever, but certainly not in this day and age. Heteromonogamous marriage is not necessarily a better environment for children than any other; what a child wants is stability. Or, if stability isn't possible, honesty about what's going on and reassurance that it's going to be okay. If my parents had stayed together for my benefit, I'd have been miserable, and I know it. Sure, I'd have preferred it if my mother hadn't had a lot of fly-by-night arsehole lovers when I was little and my dad hadn't ended up with a manic-depressive as a live-in lover before meeting Wife Number Four (I did not need to be abandoned in a car in the red-light district of Montreal at age nine while Mum's boyfriend went off to get stoned with his other sex partners, about whom Mum didn't know; I also did not need to be witness to Dad's girlfriend's hour-long episode that culminated with her putting her fist through the glass panel of our back door), but I survived, and it was still ultimately better than spending my formative years knowing I was the reason for my parents' misery.

Long story short: so long as it's a stable and functional relationship, I don't think it's particularly bad for kids, heteromonogamous or not. Can we all please stop putting roadblocks on the love, stability and openness that kids need under the banner of 'THINK OF THE CHILDREN!"? You're not fooling anyone; you're only thinking of your own outraged sense of propriety. FUCK OFF AND LET PEOPLE LIVE THEIR LIVES WITHOUT JUDGING THEM BY GOVERNMENT MANDATE. THEY ARE NOT HURTING YOU.
thessalian: (Rant)
I need a day off. I need a day off. I need a day off so badly I CANNOT STAND IT.

(Thankfully, it is the weekend so I get two. But it doesn't feel like enough.)

The good news is I am no longer standing in for the secretary that doesn't do a damned thing. No, instead I am helping yet another department with yet another backlog - this one dating as far back as June. Well. August now (because I frankly rock). Except that IT didn't give me access to the part of the system I needed to access and no one told me where to save what when anyway, and nobody told me exactly how things work in that department so things got messy. See, apparently these doctors do not like looking at computer screens ... or dealing with computers at all, given their inability to log things onto the shiny new digital dictation system correctly so that I still get all manner of letters with no idea who I'm typing about... Anyway, point is that they won't verify letters on the system. No, they make it a lot more complicated. They make us finalise the letters on the system so we can print them out, check the printouts over for errors, and then make us leave any corrections that might need making on the system while we correct and print out an entirely separate copy on the shared drive. This is insane, but never mind. At least I now relatively have the hang of things so I can just get on with typing.

Well ... mostly. There are issues. See, there's not enough room in the office of the department for whom I am doing backlog duty for me to actually have office space there. I'm up in the managerial suite for my typing. The printer's inconvenient; not only do I share it with about eight other people (none of whom are keen to take their printed documents out of the printer, for some reason, so they just sit there and clutter up the place) but it's sitting in a corner being blocked by a co-worker and a large floor-standing electric fan. My desk is an ergonomic nightmare and my back is to a corridor, which is less than fun. And I have to go down three flights of stairs and halfway across the hospital to drop off my printed-out documents ... in the opposite direction of anywhere I might actually find lunch. And as unpleasant as my current office space is, it's better than what I might have Monday, since this department wants to keep me for a few weeks longer but also has to give this desk to the other poor slob helping with this department's backlog. So they want me to come in at half-past sparrowfart Monday morning as usual but aren't entirely sure they'll have a desk for me to work at when I do.

This is why I spend most of my evenings doing little more than play Dragon Age 2. There is nothing more satisfying after a day of this shit than hitting lowish-level mobs with Assassinate and watching them explode.

Who votes I have a really nice dinner tonight?
thessalian: (Rant)
Talking faster on your dictation tapes will not make us type faster, and certainly will not make us type more accurately while we're typing faster. And if your words are quite literally getting jumbled in your mouth because you're trying to speak with the speed of an auctioneer, you're wasting your own time as well as ours because you have to go back and correct your sentence. Plus this is putting your pronunciation all over the map.

In short: MORE HASTE, LESS SPEED, plxkthnxbai.
thessalian: (facepalm)
...does not constitute an emergency on mine!

I am being shifted to yet another new department next week. It's a bit like Pass the Parcel. Still, I'm not precisely sorry. I cannot get out of this one fast enough. Today is one of those days where I just want to kill EVERYONE.

So I'm working my way through the backlog (it started mid-August. I have got us to mid-late October. I think I'm doing well) when I get approached by the consultants' lone registrar. He points out to me a list of letters that are absolutely urgent and must be typed RIGHT AWAY. Fiiiiiine, I'll abandon the backlog and type the letters that are soooo urgent that they simply cannot wait.

- One of them is dated 26 October.
- Half of them were dictated ad hoc despite being clinic letters and thus have no information attached to them on the system, obliging me to dig through notes for appropriate addresses.
- Half of those have had the notes taken away, or never had any delivered in the first place.
- One doesn't even have a name or a hospital number, as the consultant decided to see a patient who was never booked into clinic in the first place and just randomly dictated a clinic note without really attaching it to anything. So he dictated a name that I'm not sure I'm spelling right and that was it; no hospital number, no date of birth, nothing.

Don't get me started on the lady from our sister hospital insisting that of course I can get medical records, notorious for sitting on its collective tuckus and being as unhelpful as possible, to deliver a set of notes that might not even be in medical records in the first place to my office (which is in a different building) within the next ten minutes. Or the multiple patients who insist I am 'not being very helpful' when I do not take 'I will give the doctor the message' to mean 'I will track him down, nail his feet to the floor and then hold him at gunpoint until he returns your phone call'. Or the fact that we have swapped radio stations to Magic. Or that the women with whom I am sharing an office are now singing along. Or that conversation that the clinic clerk who passed through here yesterday was having with the rest of the office about how "I got no problem with gays; some of my best friends are gays. But I don't hold with what they get up to in the bedroom; it grosses me out" and how famous people coming out are only doing it for the publicity and "then there are the ones who just can't make up their minds..."

Someone please explain how my brain hasn't just plain blown up by now...
thessalian: (Default)
So I've been quiet for awhile, beyond the occasional rant. It's probably about time to rant about work, and why I need a new job, like, yesterday.

My co-admin was supposed to be leaving for greener pastures in September; something about having a job offer for something more in his skill set with a delayed start date. September came and went ... and there he was, still. Something about how he suddenly didn't have a start date anymore, but mentioned something November. Then January. It seems that the plan is that he's going to stick around until such time as they give him a date. Which, given how much they keep pushing it back, is going to be about half past never.

Senior management has always had a view to turning this particular admin job into a one-secretary operation. That secretary was supposed to be me, but since I'm still sort of in this 'float secretary' twilight zone and he's the 'official' secretary, and he's sticking around ... well, there have been reshuffles. I still have a job, but it is killing me by inches. See, I've been moved into a new department and the person whose long-term sick leave I'm covering for the moment left a complete unholy mess. I keep getting phone calls about appointments that should have been made months ago but weren't, letters that should have been typed but haven't been (the backlog went back to late August, pity's sake; I've spent the week whittling it down to mid-October and we might - might be into November by day's end), and messages that should have been passed on but clearly weren't, since nothing ever got done and the patient heard nothing back. So I get yelled at by patients a lot, particularly since IT has ballsed up my system access with the move and I can't actually make the appointments, and Central Bookings is staffed by baboons.

And then there are the people I share my current office space with. Look, I don't mind office chatter; I never have. Well, not usually. But when it's loud and I'm trying to type a clinic letter for a registrar who won't speak above a Scottish-accented mutter and trying to puzzle out medical terminology out of the mush over the noise, it doesn't help. Neither does the blaring of Heart 106.2 in the background; I like background music but I think one of the girls in the office is partly deaf, because it's right by her ear and she still cranks it. Plus I have discovered over the last week that these women are the sort who are perfectly happy to have Demi's divorce on the front page of the paper and yet bitch about celebrity culture. I can't help listening because it is too damn loud, and it all makes me want to throttle people.

(Also, if you want the window that is right by my left arm open, ask me if I mind before you do it. Do not lean over me, open the window and wander off. Particularly not when I told you just yesterday that sitting in a blast of cold air knots my muscles to the point of agony. ARGH.)

I've been in early and out late with minimal lunch for the last week. This looks set to continue in future. I need OUT. OUUUUUUUT.

But, yes, as [ profile] mitchy points out, there are a few little cheery things, like late lunch at Belgos tomorrow. (Though I thought we were doing dinner? Eh, food and good company, and I can still lie in until at least midday.) Also slaughtering things in DA2; I'm doing the Rogue playthrough again because it's fun, in a "Waitaminit; the battle just started, where did all the enemies go? Oh, they're corpses on the floor already" sort of way. It's also at least in part research; I have this plot nug and it's turning into the longest fanfic I've written in over ten years and the longest DA fic I've written ... well, ever. It's turning into chapters and that is kind of scary and I don't really know about showing it to anyone, ever but DAMNIT, I AM GOING TO TRACK DOWN THAT UNHOLY PLOT NUG AND I WILL SLAY IT LIKE IT WAS AN ARCHDEMON!

*ahem* Right. Back to work. But fuck it, sometimes I just need a damn break and I can't hear my current clinic tape over my desk-neighbour singing along with the atrocious pop on the radio anyway. When this song is over, I can probably actually get shit done...
thessalian: (Rant)
So ... the trailer for the Hunger Games film came to my attention yesterday:

So now I have a few things to say to anyone who just dismisses this as 'Battle Royale with American kids'. Because before I actually knew anything about Hunger Games ... I admit I said it too, though mostly as a frame of reference. It's wrong. I'm not talking 'it's a matter of opinion' here; there is only the very vaguest basis of comparison between the two books, and that's 'kids fight to the death'. Beyond that ... to say that they're the same thing is to demean both.

1) In the Hunger Games, children are chosen at random. Two childen from each district, twelve districts. Of the twenty-three people that any given tribute is expected to kill, the tribute only stands a chance of knowing one of them to any degree at all as anything but an opponent, and that's a maybe, depending on district size. In Battle Royale, the tribute is going up against their entire graduating class. Your best friend, your worst enemy, your first kiss, your first love, that kid who loaned you your maths notes ... the horror in Battle Royale is showing how shallow some friendships really are, and how quickly they can be thrown aside if it's a matter of survival. The beauty of Battle Royale is the little moments where love and friendship actually prevail, if only for a little while, if only in death. The horror of Hunger Games is very, very different, and shit only starts getting real in terms of uprisings and the big shots taking notice is in Catching Fire - when they do exactly what Battle Royale does in every game: pit friends against friends.

2) The horror of the Hunger Games is in the deeper 'relationship' that the viewers in the Capitol form with the tributes. In Battle Royale, no one knows which class is going to be chosen for the game until they're dumped on the battle ground. Parents don't know until their kids don't come home; viewers don't know until the kids are statistics on a screen, horses to bet on. It's horrible, yes, because it shows a lack of empathy, but it's a deliberate prevention of empathy for the 'contestants' by the audience on the part of the government. The Hunger Games goes entirely the other way. They pick their tributes publicly, call them 'brave warriors', make it sound as though the tributes are somehow proud of what they're about to do. The tributes are brought into splendour, pampered, trotted around like trick ponies, interviewed to show the person behind the warrior, made likeable ... and then sent out to kill ... and to die. And somehow, despite how attached people tend to get to their celebrities, the Capitol laps it all up. They buy into the spectacle and, despite having all but met the people who are dying for their entertainment, forget all about it when it comes time to watch the carnage. 'How despicable we must seem to you', Cinna says ... and they really, really are. Battle Royale's Japan can only get away with saying, "This is what happens; live with it". Hunger Games' Panem asks you to like it, and smile pretty for the cameras.

The endings are also radically different, as are the takes on the theme of 'what a totalitarian government can get away with'. Hunger Games has an additional theme of how we treat our celebrities like property and yet claim intimate knowledge of them just from interviews, even as we scavenge their pain like vultures for our entertainment. I can't say too much more on that because I don't want to spoil endings and all, but ... I'll be brutally frank. Battle Royale is a personal horror of epic proportions. Hunger Games is a stark mirror of what we actually could quite happily become, so long as we were all on the Capitol side. Hunger Games has more depth and more honesty. And I do not say that lightly.

So ... looking forward to this movie. Very much. And anyone who says that this is just 'watered-down Battle Royale' can frankly bite me. As a very vague reference point? Okay. But I would advise anyone who's being derisive about it and deciding not to ever touch it on the basis of their belief that it's a cheap BR rip-off (instead of wondering about the differences and waiting for the hype to die down a bit before picking it up, like I did) to actually read the books with more than just a surface eye for once and know your source material.

Also, for even suggesting that they were the same before I read the books? I apologise. Even if I did listen for the differences and didn't make an arse of myself publicly before reading the books.
thessalian: (Rant)
The banks, they make me livid.

Look, here's the thing. Letters from Inland Revenue are scary ... usually. So when I opened up my mail earlier this week, including the scary letters from Inland Revenue, imagine my utter shock when it turned out that they were giving me money. And I don't just mean 'I won ten quid on the lottery; let's get fish and chips with it' money, either. I'm talking a little over £450, 'Fuck's sake, be sensible and don't buy that iPod classic you've been drooling over for a year' money. So I get my nice shiny cheque/postal order thing from Inland Revenue, huzzah!

So I take this money to my bank. My bank puts it in my account. Ostensibly, anyway. I check my balance next day - because this is a postal order, not a cheque per se, and should clear pretty quickly, and if it doesn't ... well, no harm in looking, right? It says MONEY. So I go to use said money. Except that the cash machine tells me that I cannot access this money. Apparently, despite the fact that the bank is saying that this money is in my account, I can't have it. Apparently it hasn't cleared yet.

Then why the fuck are you telling me that it's in my account?

...Oh right; you want the interest, you fuckers.

Look, I get that they want to make sure that the money that is going to happen is ... y'know, going to happen before they give it to me. I understand that; I really do. But to say that this money is in my account when it isn't is absolutely fucking ludicrous. If my cheque has not cleared, do not tell me that my account has the funds that it would have if my cheque has cleared. If you are telling me that I have this money, let me have this fucking money, okay? It's not rocket science.

This is probably one of those first world problem things, but I don't actually care. Half the problem with this economy seems to be that people are finding ways to make imaginary money for themselves, and holding on to someone else's money to gain a piddling few pence worth of interest is part of that. Can we just have a clear-cut system whereby things move in a logical way? Like, people are not told that they have funds until those funds are available? Is that so hard?

It doesn't actually help that the staff at the bank branch I visited to check on this matter on Thursday were ... well, okay, the greeters at the door were nice, but I think that's because that's what they're there for; the friendly smiling icing on the turd cupcake that is over-the-counter banking. Because the guy I talked to about this a) didn't crack a smile, b) talked to me like I was about six and c) basically said, "Yes, it says you have this money but you don't; try on Tuesday" without so much as a 'sorry for the confusion'. Even if it's not meant, you could at least say it. I have to apologise for shit that isn't my fault and I'm not genuinely sorry for because it's company (read: NHS) policy all the time! A certain consultant only wants my co-admin to handle appointment bookings and I'm on the phones because it's Friday and some patient is screaming at me to book them an appointment RightThisSecondNow? Maybe I'm not sorry because the patient (or, more often, the patient's relative) is being an arsehole, but I'll say it. Gods, is a little tiiiiiiny bit of politeness too much to ask for? It's not like I was asking for the moon; I was asking for clarification on a matter, nothing more. And the question of "How do I know when these funds have actually reached my account so that if I do decide to make a purchase for an amount greater than the funds that are currently in my account, taking into consideration that it says these funds are in my account but apparently aren't, I don't get horrifically embarrassed" should not be met with a sullen shrug and no response at all. Apparently it's perfectly reasonable to have someone check their available balance on a local ATM every day until it states that they have X money available, because of course no one hates it when people waste time faffing about on the ATM ahead of them when they just want to take out a tenner to buy lunch with the half-hour they've got for their lunch break. Apparently it's reasonable to let customers not know how much money they really have available in their accounts because their actual balance says one thing and the ATM says another. It's a damn good thing I didn't need that money particularly or I'd have been fucked.

Anyway, that said, it looks like Tuesday was pushing things a bit. Maybe. I have a habit of sticking most available funds into my flexi-saver account and transferring out what bits I need week to week, so that I don't spend too much. So I didn't actually have the funds necessary to, in this case, buy Sims 3 Pets without that cheque clearing. I decided to try the card purchase again (I download these things via Origin these days; it's easier, and this way I don't have even potential embarrassment of 'your card has been declined' from a human being, and as a way to ensure that there is money it beats the hell out of yomping down the road in the cold and grey for what might be a total waste of time) and it actually went through. So ... I maybe have my awesome tax rebate money. It certainly likes my card now, which it didn't on Thursday. I probably will have to go to the ATM and double-check this later, but that can double with my trek out for supplies (for which I have cash money) so it won't be a wasted trip even if I can't get cash out from the ATM. Which would be really stupid, seeing as Origin likes my debit card, but I am putting nothing past my bank right now.

Soooooo ... anyway, Sims 3 Pets! I'll stop bitching now...
thessalian: (Rant)
Sorry. That title was in bad taste. (No pun intended, oh gods...)

So ... I have a question regarding this ... 'Personhood Amendment' ... thing that appears to be a deal in Mississippi right now. Y'know, the one that says that the word 'person' should apply from the time of fertilisation?

If someone has a miscarriage ... would that be manslaughter?

I mean this as a serious question. Manslaughter, if I'm recalling it right, can apply when you have killed someone accidentally - like if you hit someone with your car and maybe it was just that the conditions were bad and you really couldn't have helped it but there's also a chance that maybe you weren't paying as much attention as you should have done and that might have contributed to the accident. Note the 'maybe' and the 'might'. Technically, if this is the case, then anyone who miscarries in Mississippi could conceivably have every single aspect of their lives poked into mercilessly to see if they did everything possible to ensure a healthy pregnancy ... and who decides that, anyway? I mean, if you slipped on a flight of stairs and fell and had a miscarriage, could you be done for manslaughter because you shouldn't have been doing that anyway because of the possibility of accidents that might harm the 'person' within?

And what about when a fertilised egg just doesn't implant? Could the potential mother have prevented that? That's a 'person', dead, through no fault of their own, entirely because of what a woman's body did or didn't do. Is it the woman's fault that this 'person' didn't live? Who decides that?

I'm just ... having a hard time conceptualising this whole idea. And that's just at the very beginning. Then there's forcing rape and incest victims to carry on with a pregnancy that is entirely likely to do them serious mental and emotional harm just because the clump of undifferentiated cells classifies as a person and ending a pregnancy is murder. Then there's forcing people to carry on with ectopic pregnancies when it's essentially a choice between the mother or the child ... or quite possibly neither. And the people behind this bloody amendment say that under said amendment, "Mothers in crisis will be protected from a harmful medical procedure". So mothers in crisis will be protected from a harmful medical procedure ... because they're being forced to undergo a life-threatening pregnancy?

In the end, I don't know if I could personally go through with abortion. However, I am rather fervently pro-choice. Maybe not 'you're not a human being until you're in my phone book' pro-choice, but certainly 'if having a child is going to hurt you, then I sure as hell don't intend to make you' pro-choice. Or, more to the point, 'it's your body and it is frankly none of my business what you choose to do with your reproductive organs' pro-choice. No, I do not think that a fertilised egg is a person. It is a potential. No, I don't believe in sacrificing the physical, mental and emotional wellness and freedom of the person who is actually aware and self-sufficient for that of an unaware clump of cells undergoing mitosis and cell differentiation in a layer of tissue that may end up getting flushed out anyway. I don't even believe in sacrificing the rights of an aware and self-sufficient woman for something that is essentially a tadpole. And hell, while I don't think I could go through with an abortion if I had any interest in a functioning sexual relationship and a birth control accident meant that I ended up pregnant, you can bet your life that if there was an ectopic pregnancy involved, I would be going for the termination, because I am not giving up my life for a potential. And if I got raped, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'd be asking for the morning-after pill right then and there. And woe betide the doctor who denied me that option.

The news depresses me. There's this (and I think the most depressing part is that it has barely even seen daylight, this bit of news), and the snippets in the article talking about at one point, two separate states tried to pass something that would rule killing doctors who performed terminations as 'justifiable homicide'. There's Topeka, essentially decriminalising domestic violence because they don't want the cost of prosecuting (way to make the victims feel like they don't matter, guys. Way to make arseholes prove they're right to think that they can get away with abusing their spouses, children and families in general, and way to never let any of the victims feel like they're right in thinking that what is happening to them is bad and undeserved and that they should leave). And this is apparently more important than sorting out the economy.

I've met people who think that the future depicted in "Brave New World" was absolutely awesome and should be the ideal (yes, let's be locked into the niches we've been genetically designed to fill for the rest of our lives, filling the void with pre-programmed ideologies about rampant consumerism, drugging away any discomfort and having occasional orgies to deal with the pent-up stress with never an original thought or genuine emotion or passion of any kind). I think these guys, if presented with a copy of The Handmaid's Tale, would think that the future suggested by that story was awesome and flag it up as their manifesto or something. When people start using cautionary tale alternaverses as their personal visions for an ideal future, that's when I really start to weep for humanity.

Fuck it. Lunch. Ham salad bagel with a side of HATE, please.
thessalian: (Rant)
There will be throttling of people. Oh yes. Yes, there will.

Background: My office is full of notes. FULL of notes. Stacks of notes everywhere. It's not exactly tidy but we haven't got a lot of choice. We try to book them back to medical records but that doesn't happen when we've got consultants who insist that they will need the notes at some hitherto undecided future point and thus no one else is ever allowed to have them, ever. Notes. Stacks of them. EVERYWHERE. I have to try my level best to keep things relatively tidy so that at least we know which are clinic notes and which are a consultant's horde and which we just need to book back to records for our sanity but have just been too busy to do so.

Today I came back from lunch and the mess was horrific. Apparently medical records bods came by and tore everything apart looking for notes ... and of course, didn't think that maybe putting the rest back as they were was too much effort. So I no longer had floor space, the spot in front of the file cabinet that I painstakingly cleared of notes not two days ago is blocked again and I don't know which goes where anymore. Worse yet, one of my consultants came by with a clinic tape. Well, a clinic tape and the associated notes. Which gods forbid he think to keep together in the same fucking place. Seriously; he dropped the envelope with the clinic tape in it on top of a stack of envelopes on my desk designated for the recycling bin, and put the stack of associated notes clear across the room! So I went away for lunch to a tidyish office and a firm knowledge of where everything is, and came back to chaos.

Between that and the absolute disaster that was that same consultant's tape full of ad hoc letters (no notes, no documentation, few hospital numbers, difficult names that he refused to spell and one letter of which he only recorded the first paragraph), I'm left just wanting to scream, cry and hide under my desk until this horror goes the hell away. But it's not going to, so I guess I'm just going to have to sort things out as best I can. Though some of the notes stacking can wait until tomorrow, when I'm wearing better clothes for crawling around under desks and on the floor. I swear, at this stage I'm strongly considering turning up in track suit bottoms and a plain T-shirt. If they bitch about dress code (they never do, but still), I can just point at the notes and explain that this is an exercise in weight-lifting and office clothes are not appropriate.

...But I probably won't do that either. I will slog through today, I will slog through tomorrow and then I will have a too-short weekend that I will only be able to enjoy because at least no one else will be in the office, being let get away with developing bad habits that make my life a living hell.

And I've had the phones today. Is it any wonder I want to messily slaughter EVERYTHING?


thessalian: (Default)

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