Life Philosophies


Wherein I start writing down some general principles I try to live by.

  1. Give what you can when it will be accepted. Accept what is offered when you can.
    The idea here is to give/share/help people when you can, while also not spreading yourself too thin. Prioritise those closest to you, but even a little bit of help to people you’ve just met can make a difference. Likewise, it’s OK to be on the receiving end, but it’s also OK to say no.
  2. If I have to prove I love you, maybe I don’t
    The “you’ll do this if you love me” line, or “you don’t love me any more” response. Both of these are being manipulative to some extent, and I dislike manipulation.
  3. If you make me choose between you and someone else, odds are I won’t choose you
    Similar to point #2, demanding that I stop interacting with someone else because you don’t like them, especially with ultimatums, will not work in your favour. Any person I choose to interact with is completely independent of any other person I interact with.

I’ll add more as I think of them.

Hostility on the Interwebs


I’ve grown a little… tired… with the prevailing attitude on the internet of late. If you’ve been following Ghostcrawler on Twitter recently you’ll have seen the abusive language types who feel that the game doesn’t meet their standards. In fact, there’s a fair bit of abuse, bullying, and otherwise unsavoury behaviour going on twitter these days.

Since Ghostcrawler turned up on Twitter, probably half of his tweets are in response to such messages as “When are you leaving Blizzard? You are an overpaid hack that lost the plot a long time ago” or “ya ur a total bitch”. It’s both amusing and sad at the same time to see people saying such things in response to changes within a game.

It’s rare to see a well reasoned justification for claims from players. By “well reasoned” I mean something that contains a bit of thought, and not just linking the latest raidbots or simcraft graph as if this is complete proof that everything is as they claim. Unfortunately, if it were as simple as looking at a graph and tweaking numbers then everything would be perfectly balanced.

There’s more going on than just that though. Abusive and/or bullying tweets are fairly frequent, and I was the subject of one such incident last week. It started off as a conversation between myself and another person about whether the fact that the author of a “news” post about feminism was Men Saving The Day or just a case of Whoever Is Available To Write. I say “news” post because it was essentially a tweet collection around a recent hashtag.

I occasionally have philosophical discussions on twitter like that, so I didn’t think much of it until a few other people started chiming in saying I was wrong, and how could a man know anything relevant to the story. I tried making my point that the article should be judged based on the content of that article, whether it be good or bad, not because of the gender of the author. This didn’t go down too well with the other people in the conversation (all of whom had actually self-inserted them into it, the other person from the original conversation had long since stopped participating).

The conversation got quite heated in the end, especially with such comments as “I don’t understand why women can’t even just fucking /discuss/ these things” + “without some dude stomping here upset that we even applied critical thinking” + “Sometimes, there’s just some conversations you don’t -have- to drop into and give your opinion. See: women discussing sexism!”, as if I’d inserted myself into their conversation when it was the other way around.

As you may have noticed from one or two of the other posts here, I’ve had bit of a rough time recently with Natural Disasters (aka the few thousand noticeable earthquakes that have occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand in the past two years) not to mention a few other things I’ve been dealing with, so the responses I received didn’t exactly put me in a cheerful mood. Quite the opposite, actually. I deactivated my twitter account for a short while just to get away from it, and after re-activating I’ve changed to a protected feed & deleted about 650 followers.
I’ve also decided to put all the usual stuff I do on haiatus, in part because of that afternoon. I’ve copied a bunch of the tweets in here for reference.

“I have a special sub-zero tolerance for shitbag elitist WoW theorycrafters, my bad my bad”
“because they are usually the apex of snotty mansplaining nonsense and hyped on their own intellect and people yes’ing them to death”
“Sorry but when it comes to discussing Social Justice Issues, your a) WoW math expertise b) Dude Opinions mean little to nothing”
“A couple people from the ELITE HIGH END RAIDING THEORYCRAFT scene have just gotten so on my nerves for that shit.”
“shit, see, if I had known he was Elitist Jerk I would have asked him how he’d feel if a casual was given the Brewmaster thread”
“I have felled mightier Math Dudes in my time”

So because I’m a guy, and I post (or at least, used to post) at EJ, and do math stuff, this makes me a justifiable target for this sort of behaviour?

No, I don’t think so.

However, I don’t really hate these people. I’m just sad that they can’t see their behaviour as something bad. The only action I can really take is to block them, make this post on my personal blog, thank various twitter friends for their comments that day, and move on. The moving on bit is where I pull back from the internet world, post less, restrict access to my twitter account, and wonder how long it will be before that voice in the back of my head that says “you shouldn’t say that” gives up its newly acquired megaphone.

The Growing Divide in World of Warcraft Websites


There are many websites out there covering various aspects of the game, from general news to databases to focused subjects like fishing or pets. Over the years, most sites have interacted in some form or another with the database sites, most notably being WoWDB and Wowhead which are part of the Curse and ZAM networks, respectively.

I’ve always preferred using Wowhead, but I use both databases on a regular basis to check spell details, quest information, etc. I’ve even installed the Wowhead tooltip script on Totemspot which also does nifty things like previewing transmog sets in addition to the usual tooltip details.

Recently though, I was introduced to the uglier side of what happens when you have “competing” websites.

Over the weekend I received a message from one of the guys behind MMO-Champion & WoWDB on a WoW related IRC channel I hang out on. I’ve spoken to this person occasionally before, so I didn’t think anything of it when he told me my website was broken. I checked, and it was working fine, so I asked how it was broken. The reply was:

“when I click a link on any of the guide pages it redirects me to wowhead instead of wowdb”

I wasn’t too impressed by this suggestion, but I prefer being polite whenever I can so I didn’t tell him to shove off straight away. The rest of the short conversation involved touting the things that WoWDB did better, promises of being advertised on MMO-Champion and examples of other sites that are using it, with the implication that they also received this offer and switched because of it. There was even a link to a web traffic profile of one of these sites with the suggestion that the massive spike was due to their referral  although anything dated around the 28th of August makes me think the spike was just because of 5.0.4 (I didn’t have as large a spike on Totemspot, but the traffic increases are fairly similar).

I’m also not worried about getting more “exposure” for Totemspot, because simply getting visitors isn’t enough. I want to grow the forums, and that will take time. The site is also cheap enough to run on donations alone so I’m not worried about ad revenue.

The approach did irritate me, although I should admit if a site that was getting around 900 visits a day (pre-Mists anyway, it’s been steadily growing to the point where I might pass 3,000 visits in a single day and that’s with having my Elemental guide copied to four other locations) is one that gets bribed with advertising in order to increase their “market hold”, it’s both sad and amusing at the same time.

Curse has managed to lower my opinion of themselves on a fairly regular basis. They don’t seem to be happy until they have a near monopoly in a particular area, and will create functionality they can charge for by taking away free functionality or giving paying members access to more “exclusive” stuff. Examples of each are the Curse Client, where you can only download two addons at a time, and the constant beta key give-a-ways for various games. Correction, the Curse Client only downloads one addon at a time, but you can’t have more than two queued unless you have their “premium” membership. I’m not against the ads in the client, because that’s helping pay for the (minimal) amount of bandwidth used, but the now defunct MMO-Minion used at WoWInterface had ads, a premium “remove the ads” option but yet still allowed a One Click Update function.

It’s sad to see that because of the actions of one company there is a growing divide in WoW related sites where you either use their stuff, or your site is “wrong” or “broken”.

Social Media Madness


One of the comments I get on twitter occasionally is “You’re not following X?” to which I usually reply something along the lines of twitter overload/must read all the tweets. This isn’t just a Twitter thing though, it applies for Facebook and any other social media site that I’m on.

I’ve never been one for… “collecting” friends. I’d rather have 50 friends on Facebook that I know well and care about than 500 or 5000 people that I know/have known/met randomly in a bar one night. It’s almost like the “personal” has gone out of our online social interactions and we’re just talking with a bunch of random faceless people.

Similarly, with something like Twitter I keep my follow list down, and will occasionally remove one or two to keep things manageable. This is a combination of interest levels (Do I want to follow you? Will having you in my feed improve things? Do I often see you in twitter conversations, or partake in twitter conversations with you?) and feed overload where I need to read ALL the tweets. Having too many people in my feed means I have too many tweets to read. For a while I tried catching up on the overnight tweets, but since most of the people I follow are American they have a 5 hour head-start on me in the morning which makes it take ages. I don’t bother any more.

I don’t see not following someone, or unfollowing someone as a sign of “I don’t like them”. It’s more that I can’t fit them into the budget that is my social media. Likewise whether they are a “friend” on facebook or not really doesn’t have any impact on our actual friendship & Real Life social interactions. If a social media status matters that much to you, maybe you’re not that much of a friend in the first place.

Personal Notes: Health Issues


Ok, so this twitter storm this morning about Mental Illness and how people should just “get over it”, “work to rise above it” etc has got me to the point where I’m going to put in my ten cents (that’s the smallest coin we have over here now). A bit of “pre-reading” is required though. You should also read about “Spoon Theory” as there are times when I run out of spoons or end up operating on a low spoon level (I’m fortunate that most of the time I never have to worry about that limit).

Right then. Let us begin with the slightly analytical run down of what exactly is Wrong With Me. I don’t have any official diagnoses yet, but what I do know is that I have low calcium levels and low vitamin D levels, neither of which are critical but I’m usually operating at the very low end of the recommended levels, which results in daily calcium supplements (500mg) and fortnightly vitamin D supplements (can’t remember the dosage). These reduce the muscle twitching I experience, which are usually small 2-6 cm regions that twitch repeatedly until I tense the muscle. I also experience some levels of depression, which can be directly correlated to whether I forget to take my calcium in the morning or when my vitamin D fortnight has almost expired.

We think (me and my doctors) that I also have Cluster Headaches in a particularly chronic form (it’s unusual for me to not have a headache in a day). Luckily most of these don’t make it over a 5 on my personal pain scale, which works out fairly similar to the Hyperbole-And-A-Half scale except without 11 and Too Serious For Numbers. However, I do get to experience 6-7 level headaches on a multiple-per-week basis, which as you can imagine are Not Fun. These headaches are also somewhat irritating in the fact that most painkillers do nothing to alleviate the pain (certainly none of the over-the-counter ones anyway) which means I just have to deal with the pain until it goes away of it’s own accord. The worst one I’ve had, which was many years ago, apparently caused me to slur my speech and sway on my feet. The typical behaviour of these headaches is to start off at the base of my skull on the right, and build it’s way up over my head until it ends up around my right eye/cheekbone.

In addition to this (but wait, there’s more!) I have muscle pain issues too. Some of these are biomechanical issues relating to how I’ve been favouring one knee for a number of years, or the ever prevalent back issues that many people have. The others are just mystery shooting pains that could be referred pain from tweaked nerves, or something I can only describe as “low level sharp non specific pain” mostly in my arms and legs. This latter one could possibly be something like Fibromyalgia but I’m hesitant to go as far as saying it is. The scientist in me wants to eliminate the more simple & easier to confirm things first.

It’s not really that much, is it? Well, when it gets split up like that it’s not too bad, but everything moves in cycles so some days can be fine, others can be rather dismal. For example, if I run a quick inventory of sore spots, there’s my left knee & one of the tendons (old injury), my left shoulder (maybe I slept on it funny?), random pains/tingles in my arms (left biceps most) and a fading headache at the base of my skull. This is a mostly light spot. Other times I can have flare ups in all four limbs, a bad headache and something going on with my back all at the same time. It gets worse if I’m low on my neurotransmitter reserves (aka Calcium/Vit D) and start heading down that depression slope. I can usually hold that back from a complete breakdown, but I’d ascribe that ability to briefly “dangling my feet in the pool that is Depression” because as long as I keep on top of things I’m mostly fine (and by mostly fine I mean I vary from being right on the edge to being just out of jumping distance).

I also have a bit of a problem with anxiety and possibly some form of PTSD, but these shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that knows where I live (Christchurch, New Zealand, where we’ve had over 10,000 earthquakes since September 2010). I’m mostly ok with these two now, but every now and then it pops up to say hi (every small earthquake or truck rumbling past results in that “oh shit, not again” moment). The anxiety bit does feed into a slight paranoia that I’ve done something wrong, messed up, that some non specific comment is about me, or that slight twinge of guilt that an unfollow on twitter was intentional and because of something I’d said and done.

I am doing something about it though, getting regular massage sessions to work on muscle tension & those biomechanical issues mentioned earlier, getting blood tests to keep track of neurotransmitter levels, and I’ve been given some herbal supplements suggestions as well. I’m also employed full time (40 hours/week) which is both a help and a hindrance at times. Sometimes I will get home from work to find that I’m actually pretty tired and will occasionally skip dinner to crawl into bed early.

So there you have it. Now you understand a bit more about me and my situation. Some days can be fine, other days not so much.

Contraception & Religious Freedom in America


In an ongoing campaign in the current 2012 primaries, the Republicans (and some other religious conservatives) are out in force about the issue of employers providing contraceptive medicine to their workers, or insurance companies doing it in their stead if they object to it. There’s a few things wrong with this stance.

Firstly, the issue of Women’s Health. Contraceptives like “the pill”, the “morning after pill”, etc etc are medications for Women. I know some take them for serious medical reasons, not just to avoid getting pregnant. How better off would those women be if they were denied access to what essentially boils down to life saving/quality of life preserving medication? Quite the opposite is the answer. There’s also a flow-on effect of trying to “defund” anything related to contraception or abortion, as seen with the recent Planned Parenthood funding debacles. They do much more than that, like STD checks and Cancer screening, which are important to making sure people stay healthy.

But where does the “objection” to medication end? If employers and insurers are able to object to paying for the medication of employees because of their beliefs, does this mean that this will just be limited to contraception? Probably not. Religious organisations could (not saying that they all would) start arguing that because they believe in the “Healing Power of God”, nobody needs any medication if they truly believe. Cancer treatment? Pain medication? Nope, sorry, God can heal you but since you don’t believe that’s your punishment and you’ll just have to deal with it. There could be arguments made against pain medication on the grounds that only weaklings require it, or other equally absurd reasons.

In the end, this comes down to the “Forcing Your Views On Others” subject. For the Republicans, this is the “Freedom of Religious Speech” bit, which loosely translates as “I want to have my beliefs protected by law and yours can just be ignored. Lets make an example for you. We have two women, A(ngela) and B(arbara). Angela is a devout Catholic, while Barbara is a more liberal non-practising Christian. If the Republicans get their way, neither woman will get access to contraception via their employer or insurance. However, if the Democrat view on the matter goes through, both women have the option of getting contraception. Angela can freely choose to refuse it based on her beliefs, but Barbara can obtain it if she so wishes. In other words, protecting the beliefs of group A does not mean you have to deny the rights of group B.

This is the “problem” with the extreme evangelical religious right in American politics. They think that their policies are the only valid ones around because they were handed down by God, and everyone should obey them. If you go back in time to the 11th Century, you’ll see that idea running around then too. It was called The Crusades. Of course, things are more civilised now. Rather than using swords people use words. There may be a social war going on in the States, and one of the sides may be (extreme) Catholic Religion, but it’s not a war “against” them. It’s more a war started by them, with multiple fronts (contraception, homosexuality, abortion).

Quite often they will get their wires crossed. There’s the silly point that more contraception will result in fewer abortions, because there will be fewer accidental pregnancies. Or the contradiction between the arguments against the contraception mandate because it’s “the government telling us what to do” while they table laws around mandatory vaginal ultrasounds for any woman wanting to get an abortion. These things do not add up, but when you are fanatical enough to attempt to apply your views on everyone else I guess some of these thoughts just never enter into it.

The Unconstitutional Constitution, or Why Some People Shouldn’t Use Logic


This post relates to a single tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/michellemalkin/status/166948277076508673

RT @arizonashane@michellemalkin Given the opportunity, the 9th Circus would strike down the Constitution as unconstitutional.

I came across it after seeing the amazingly bigoted tweet from Rick Santorum

7M Californians had their rights stripped away today by activist 9th Circuit judges. As president I will work to protect marriage.

So first off, the whole “giving people rights” thing does not actually take away the rights of anyone else. If Santorum was a member of the KKK arguing against Black Rights, or was arguing against Womens Rights and used the exact same argument he’d be committing political suicide. But no, it’s ok to say that  about homosexual couples and their right (or prevention thereof) to marry. Someone down the road getting a BMW does not prevent me from getting one either, so I fail to see how the “rights” of anyone has been “stripped away”.

Of course, if he’s arguing for the “sanctity of marriage”, why don’t they kick off a “ban divorce” campaign, or a “criminalise adultery” one? These things do more to “harm” marriage than anything else I’ve seen, so this defence is like saying you can’t light a candle because it might start a fire, but your house is already burning down.

Anyway, back to the Logic. The Constitution is what defines America, or at least is the document that it’s founded on. To say that the 9th Circuit Court would call the Constitution unconstitutional is like the old logic joke “This statement is false”. If the statement is false, it must be true, but if it’s true then the statement is false. Likewise, if the Constitution is unconstitutional then how can you define what is unconstitutional? Is everything not in the Constitution suddenly not unconstitutional when the Constitution becomes unconstitutional?

This is why people shouldn’t treat Logic like a play toy. They sometimes screw it up.

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