1. Please do not tell me how to mourn

    Okay, a few people know this now and really there’s no point in being secretive about it so here it is: My dad died on Tuesday. Now if we get into an awkward conversation about how my dad is doing, I’ll know you’ve ignored me on Facebook. Fair warning.

    Perhaps some people I’ve run into since then might think that I am a robot, or a monster, or at least on the spectrum for not spending days holed up in my room—which would be a totally reasonable thing to do—but it turns out that I am not that type of person. Who knew? Maybe I am on the spectrum.

    It’s not that I was not completely devastated; I really was. That last day was quite literally the worst of my life, and I can already feel myself repressing those memories.

    I am convinced that there is no single right way to mourn. I think everyone can agree that moving on is healthy, but I get the feeling that people believe that there is some sort of mandatory minimum mourning period, and that it is a lot more than a few hours. It turns out that I do not agree.

    Is it unhealthy to avoid thinking about that last day? I fear it will haunt the depths of my subconscious for the rest of my life, but what purpose does it serve to focus on it? Should I desensitize myself to that memory? I cannot see the value in that.

    I had been dreading that day since I gained an adequate understanding of mortality, sometime in my teens I’m guessing. My dad was much older than most men are when I was born, and I’d considered that still having him around when I hit 30 would be very fortunate indeed. I like to think that I made the most of the past few years with him around, with the very unfortunate exception of 2013.

    I wonder now whether 15 years of imagining, worrying, and having nightmares about that day somehow left me better prepared when the day finally came.

    I wonder too whether not holding guilt about my relationship with my dad helped. Movies and books have taught me that people often feel guilt over not having spent enough time with or done enough for loved ones upon their passing. While it’s true that one can probably always do more, I think it is important to be pragmatic about it; we have our own lives to live, after all. We visited often, and I understood that what he wanted above all else was to feel appreciated and to not feel useless. I am completely at peace with that.

    All that said, my mind is still a maelstrom of thoughts and emotions. Maybe in a few days I will have a complete breakdown. I had already been thinking about how out of balance my priorities have been over the past year—Jenny and I only manage to eat together on weekends and for a few months I was away more than I was home; perhaps this period of introspection will lead down a previously inconceivable path. Or maybe I’ll just settle back into the old routine minus that one part of my life, a void which would be quickly filled by something else.

    What I do know is that this is how I feel now, and that all feelings are valid, so please do not tell me how to mourn.

  2. Affleck :: Batman != Ledger :: Joker

    Please, let’s not compare Heath Ledger’s Joker casting to Ben Affleck’s Batman casting.

    To be quite honest, until that funny picture started circulating last night, I was not aware that anyone had a problem with Heath Ledger being tabbed as The Joker. I’m not entirely convinced that this was even a widely held opinion; it does not take much effort to find people hating on absolutely anything on the internet.

    Regardless, the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker is completely different than Affleck’s Batman. Heath Ledger was a relative unknown with few if any comparable roles, though he proved he at least had acting chops and range in Brokeback Mountain. Anyone who saw Ledger’s turn as Ennis Del Mar and concluded that he is not a good actor is lying, clueless, or both. There was also very little prior art when it came to The Joker. Batman Begins was such a departure from Tim Burton’s vision, and Christian Bale’s Batman so different from Michael Keaton’s, that Jack Nicholson’s Joker hardly seemed relevant. Who knew what kind of Joker that Christopher Nolan envisioned? No one save for Nolan, so who could have possibly known how good of a fit Heath Ledger was?

    Batman, on the other hand, is a far different story. We are just 13 months removed from the end of the Christian Bale Batman era—the definitive depiction of Batman and arguably the greatest super hero movie series ever—and now we are faced with the prospect of a new and very different Batman. Yes, maybe Affleck is exactly what director Zack Synder has in mind, but unlike with The Joker, pretty much anyone who will watch Superman vs Batman will already have a very clear picture of how Batman looks and acts. Nolan wrote The Joker out of his Batman story arc because he did not want another actor having to face comparisons to Ledger, which is exactly what Affleck must now contend with. I would not envy anyone tasked with following up Bale’s portrayal, but Ben Affleck has the additional distinction of having already flopped in a super hero movie. Affleck, unlike Ledger, also has a substantial catalog from which to draw conclusions. Despite some critical acclaim, Affleck has not displayed a particularly impressive range or the ability to play a darker character. That is not to say that he is incapable, just that he has not demonstrated a capability. This is the root of people’s doubt, and that is not unreasonable.

    There are of course countless examples of actors who surprised by breaking out of their typecast with unexpected performances, who were perhaps limited by what their roles allowed. But there are also plenty of one-note actors utterly incapable of reaching beyond their comfort zone.

  3. Preview: any B1G team vs any SEC team

    B1G Team

    Team composition: Mostly slow midwesterners with a few gullible southerners. Talent level is low enough that coach’s sons can make the team without anyone batting an eyelash

    Offensive identity: Three yards, a cloud of dust, punt.

    Defensive coaches’ pre-game hype method: Threaten players’ families’ farms or scrap metal businesses.

    SEC Team

    Team composition: If not for state-mandated minimums, there would be no white people on any roster. Exceptions: Kickers, Vanderbilt.

    Offensive identity: Keep firing the ball into the ground until one accidentally finds its way into a receiver’s hands and he outruns the entire defense for a touchdown.

    Defensive coaches’ pre-game hype method: Repeatedly taze players, feed them a cocktail of Five Hour Energy and PCP.

  4. 3rd & Ten Commandments

    Lost my mind thinking about rebooting big franchises. Here’s my bible reboot concept:

  5. Vox Product: Vox Media Pawduct Team: Meet Our Dogs! →

    voxmediaproduct:

    Dogs. Love them or hate them (you love them, of course), they are a popular animal on the Vox Media product team.

    You can tell a lot about a person by meeting their dog. Today, you have the rare opportunity to better know nine Vox product people and their furry friends!

    We’re not done, either….

  6. Vox Product: What’s on your desk? - Episode 5: Alex Nobert, Ops Manager →

    voxmediaproduct:

    far left

    I’ve wanted to write a nice office post for years but had never gotten my office into what I consider to be presentable shape. That changed this past summer when I submitted my desk to The Verge’s “What’s on your desk?” forum topic. It has evolved a bit since but the core is the same.

    above

  7. On Morally Superior Newspapers

    As predicted, the simpleton editors of the New York Post put Amy Winehouse’s death on the cover and buried the Norway massacre story on page 8. Outrage!

    NY Post cover

    Here’s the thing: The New York Post reported on the Norway massacre story. Seriously, they did; check page 8.

    You might say that this raises the question as to what the role of a cover page is, and I would say that it is to sell the most newspapers possible. I suppose you would say that it should be a record of the most important news of the day. Important to whom, I would retort. And I would follow up with a second question: Is it the role of the newspaper to dictate which news items are important? Or is it merely to report the news? One could take an even more cynical view: It is to sell news, which is most effectively done by leading with news most likely to catch the attention of their target demographic. That would be a fair assessment. If that bothers you, don’t buy the NY Post, and blame society for perpetuating a world in which these uneducated buffoons can keep a daily tabloid in business.

    But that’s really not my point.

    Here is my point: Every single day, equally—and often more—heinous atrocities are committed all over the world. Tens of thousands are killed in religious- or ethnic-inspired genocides. Millions are oppressed and without basic freedoms by totalitarian regimes. Starvation is rampant across Africa. There are wars being waged every day, and not just the ones we are familiar with; civilians are caught in the crossfire daily in battles between any combination of government soldiers, rebel fighters and drug cartels.

    So tell me, outraged internet commenter, are any of those things on the cover of your newspaper today?

  8. On The So-Called Facebook Hegemony

    Laura June’s lament about the internet’s steady march towards a single internet identity contains one unfortunate oversight—the fact that the entire internet is not moving towards that. It is debatable whether there is even a generalized trend towards this, although it is not hard to imagine a shift in that direction.

    Before we begin, I want to make clear: when I refer to anonymity, I am also referring to pseudo-anonymity via the use of an alternate online persona. For the purposes of these arguments, they are effectively identical.

    The crux of the argument as presented is that there is value in online anonymity, and that Mark Zuckerberg is going to take that away from us, via this quote:

    "You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly … Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity."

    A series of examples is provided to illustrate the importance of anonymity:

    Am I no longer entitled to some separation between who I am when I’m talking about technology rather than when I’m talking about my political beliefs, should I choose to separate those things? Is a teenager no longer entitled to explore and even comment on blogs about, say, homosexuality, without logging in to Facebook to do so?

    I am sure everyone can agree that anonymity in those cases would be important, perhaps even necessary. And I am pretty sure that if we asked Mark Zuckerberg (someone should really ask Mark Zuckerberg), he would agree with that sentiment. He would then go on to say that he has no intention of taking anonymity away from anonymous forums. Similarly, anti-firearm crusaders are (outliers aside) not advocating that we take away guns from the soldiers or law enforcement professionals. Or, if you prefer, look at the example of anonymous tip lines or helplines. In the real world, we enforce a single identity—we have birth certificates, social security numbers and drivers licenses—yet somehow these anonymous phone lines persist.

    "How is that possible?!"

    We’ve all tacitly agreed to a social contract. In doing so, we’re subject to rules enforcing our single identity. But, like most rules, there are exceptions.

    Creating and enforcing a social contract online—which would be the net effect of the single online identity—is not going to abolish anonymous forums. If anything, it will see their popularity increase as people who used to enjoy anonymity in public forums search for new havens for their alter-personae. But here is the really important consideration: The social contract is opt-in. Unless of course we’re talking about a dystopian future in which Mark Zuckerberg is the head of state and Facebook is the ruling party. But we’re not talking about that, because it is idiotic.

    The opt-in online social contract, being opt-in, would allow for the continued existence of anonymous forums. If your favorite blog or forum opts-in to the Facebook single identity, pack up your toys and take them to another site with similar content which has maintained the option of anonymity. If one does not exist, create one. If you subsequently find yourself alone, well, maybe this anonymity thing was not such a big deal to your fellow commenters after all.

    The other popular argument is for the separation between one’s personal digital persona, the one hidden within a private Facebook profile, and the evidently completely fake person presented to family, co-workers and prospective employers.

    Do you see what I did there?

    But that is not my final answer. Once again, allow me to point out that just as in real life, it is opt-in. To which “it” do I refer? Take your pick: Commenting on your favorite blog, publishing racist jokes, uploading pictures of yourself doing a keg stand to Facebook, or just being an asshole.

    Back to reality for a minute. When you go into the office, nothing is really stopping you from being a bigot. Well, aside from everyone hating you and the high likelihood of being fired. Except that they are not stopping you; you are stopping you, because you do not want to have face those consequences. Did I just blow your mind? I sure hope not.

    It seems to me that the majority of people making this particular argument are assholes who don’t want to face the consequences of being identified as such. Some people have pointed out that their Facebook profiles are full of photos of them doing activities their mothers may object to. Well, you have a few choices. You could, for example, defriend your mom, or you could just not post those photos to Facebook. But then you’d either have to explain to your mom why you had defriended her, or go through life without your close circle of five hundred friends reveling in your amazing alcohol-fueled exploits. Congratulations, you are now faced with an adult decision.

    However, this decision is not even necessary. I find it difficult to believe that you have not already heard of the solution, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Facebook has privacy settings. Does that sound familiar? I see a faint glimmer of recognition in your eye. Surely one of your Facebook friends has appointed his or herself as the official Facebook privacy maven. You’d recognise this person by the number of chain letters he or she posts railing against Facebook’s latest criminally negligent change to their privacy policy. These events are usually coincided by a flurry of posts on popular tech blogs and the mainstream online (is this a redundant statement yet?) media railing against Facebook’s latest criminally negligent change to their privacy policy. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, given that you’re concerned with your online privacy, and given how much fucking noise every Facebook user who is concerned with online privacy makes about it every time it happens.

    Okay, maybe you haven’t heard of it. Perhaps you forgot it when you fell off a keg on a particularly epic binge and gave yourself a minor concussion. Let me refresh your memory: Facebook’s privacy settings allow you to control who may or may not see the various components of your Facebook persona, including but not limited to: photos of you doing keg stands, photos of your bong collection, photos of you draped in a confederate flag, and photos of you being cruel to animals. Facebook even implemented very fine-grain control allowing you to limit your misogynistic jokes to a group of friends of your choosing, which you could name something like “true bros”. What this means is that if after applying for a job as a workplace diversity expert only to be outed to your prospective employers as a racist by your Facebook profile, you have only your dumb racist self to blame.

    Before wrapping up, allow me to digress in bringing out another contrived example: That of mistaken online identity. Some people have really scraped the bottom of the edge case barrel for this one.

    uh wut?

    I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but I could search for John Smith right now. Were I looking to find out more about a job candidate named John Smith, I may very well even find reference to a John Smith being a dog-fucker. I may then deduce that this is a case of mistaken identity, give him the benefit of the doubt, or even erroneously assume these are the same John Smith. I can do this today, without a single online identity.

    It must be obvious that I am fully in favor of Facebook’s new single identity. After all, I am sitting here blogging about it using my real name. The truth is that I am not sure how I feel about it yet. In the past, I have avoided signing in using my Facebook account, but not because I do not want to be identified by my real name or associated with my Facebook identity—neither of these things are true, as I have no alter-persona and have nothing to hide in my Facebook profile, though I still restrict access to almost every part of it. No, the real reason I have avoided logging in via Facebook is that I don’t trust what Facebook or the partner sites will do with my information once that link is established. But that is easily mitigated by simply not providing sensitive information to Facebook. Today, if a malicious site were to somehow siphon all of my Facebook data—which should be impossible given my privacy settings and Facebook’s access control—all they would end up with is a bunch of photos of things I ate while on vacation, and my birthdate.

    breakfast

    November 2nd.

    Shit!

  9. Bulletstorm's Trischka

    If this exchange between Bulletstorm producer Tanya Jessen and Creative Director Adrian Chmielarz is even 50% true, I feel very sad for and ashamed of the video games industry and males (emphasis mine):

    I’m in Adrian’s office, like, “Adrian, come on. No! Are you crazy? Trishka, she’s our badass. She’s going kick your ass and take no prisoners! She’s sexy because she has the confidence. She doesn’t need to have giant breasts!” Adrian is like, "She’s so hot, she needs to have a giant rack. I love chicks in video games that have giant boobs." I could see his face was kind of sad. I think we came to a good middle ground. He genuinely wanted what he considers the most beautiful looking woman in the game. What I wanted is a believable, strong, not-stereotypical fighter chick.

    From Techland

  10. Fundamental differences

    Penny Arcade

    Penny Arcade’s latest comic clearly (and literally) illustrates the difference between the three console manufacturers, and it’s not as exaggerated as you might think.

    In Penny Arcade’s depiction, Nintendo come out the clear winner. The ordinance Nintendo have brought to bear at E3 — a thundering salvo aimed at core gamers — appeals mightily to Gabe and Tycho, who are obviously firmly entrenched in the center of the core gamer demographic. Nintendo have great franchises, they create great games within those franchises, and they have not wasted time dealing with anything else at this year’s E3. Even the most ravenous gamer left that keynote sated.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, are painted in a negative light, having largely ignored their popular franchises and, as a result, the core gamers. But Microsoft also recognize something that core gamers can’t (or won’t) see: That the Xbox360 has long since crossed over into the mainstream. Their target market is no longer restricted to “gamers”; their scope has expanded to include “people who like mainstream crap, which happens to include games”. Dudes who play Madden don’t necessarily self-identify as gamers; they like football and there happens to be a great football videogame. In that context, it should not be seen as an affront to Microsoft’s demographic that ESPN3 is the most-touted new product at the Xbox360 E3 keynote, because it’s really not. It may be ignoring the needs of the core gamers, but they are no longer the primary demographic; they’re but a small portion of the now much broader demographic, which is really something along the lines of “every male aged 12 to 40”. Gamers can whine about the lack of reverence paid to their kind, but the reality is — and Microsoft is well aware of this — nobody will remember this when, say, the Gears of War 3 marketing machine spools up. If the addition of ESPN3 happened to attract a slew of fence-sitters whose allegiance may otherwise have been a toss-up between Sony and Microsoft, so much the better for Gears of War 3’s chances a year from now.

    As for Sony, well, they’re retarded.