Leave a comment

TV Tropes Monday: Apocalypse Cult


Tweet of the Day: From Dark to Dark: Yes, Women Have Always Written Space Opera 

The world as we know it will end, it always does. Don’t believe me, just ask the civilizations of the Hindus river valley, the eastern Mediterranean bronze cultures, or the Western Roman Empire. Wait, you can’t, because they are not around anymore.


Well since time immemorial humans noted the fragility of their works, the intricate interplay of culture, economics, religion, and their environment.  That led them to believe that either by the hand of Man or God, it would all come crashing down. And some believe this to be a good thing! So good in fact that they want to speed it along.

Enter the Apocalypse Cult.

Regardless of their exact beliefs, be they ideological, philosophical, religious, or any combination of the three, these cults make for great villains. Why? For two reasons. First an apocalypse tends to be a messy (read: deadly) thing with lots of murder, mayhem, and corpses. Most protagonists have enough sense of self-preservation to not want that. Second, their fanaticism means that arguing with a cultist is a tad hard to do, so stabbing their guts or shooting them in the head is usually the way to go.  It is a great set up for a combat heavy video game or an action movie. Other stories might lead a protagonist to infiltrate the group to destroy it from within or extract a person from it (usually a a teenager or young adult).

However, these cults often serve as political straw men for the writer. Any group that the writer believes is a dangerous philosophy can be transformed into a cult to show the end result of their thinking. The reality is that while cultist spout a jumble of conflicting ideas they tend to be centered around a charismatic leader. When their leadership collapses or their ego drives them to extremes the cults implode, with their victims consuming each other rather that kicking off the end of all humanity.

Leave a comment

Mass Effect/AEC-ANN News: Blood in the Streets of Colorado Springs



ANN News Desk

From Alliance News HQ in Vancouver

September 12, 2197

Blood in the Streets of Colorado Springs

By Amita Quita

VANCOUVER, EARTH– Violent clashes between Neo-Nationalist and counter protesters left 11 dead and over 100 wounded in three way street battles that engulfed the city of Colorado Springs. The day long battle occurred in and around the grounds of the former Air Force Academy as well as several locations in the downtown area. The Neo-Nationalist gathered to celebrate the centennial of the Siege of the Academy. In September 12, 2097, a group of students allied with the American Sovereignty Movement launched a take over of the academy. The 15 day siege ended with a dawn raid by UNAS special forces on the academy grounds. They discovered evidence of a series of grizzly crimes that included torture, sexual assault of female students, and summary executions.  Since the end of the civil war it became a pilgrimage site for a small number of Neo-Nationalist.

During the summer local authorities noticed a spike in Extranet chatter that indicated a larger than usual number of Neo-Nationalist and Anti-Alien leaning groups would converge on the city. An equal or larger number of counter-protesters planned to interrupt the event. While the police executed an intricate plan to keep the two groups separate, the sounds of several loud explosions followed by gunfire disrupted their operation. This kicked of a battle between the two groups that spilled into the streets of the city. It took several hours for the the police, with reinforcements from Colorado State Police Troopers, to gain control of the situation.

The Chief of Colorado Springs Police Department, Marcy Daverou, announced over 300 arrest and an estimated 5 million credits in damage to several local landmarks. Other sources told ANN News that the number of combatants exceeded 2,000.

Leave a comment

Mass Effect/AEC: Chapter 9 (c.3)-Preparations



Tweet of the Day: Fantasy Economics 


Conference Room, SSV Kurks SR-3, In orbit around Libertas, Sphinx System, Argos Rho Cluster, Attican Traverse, September 10, 2197

I reached down to the holo-interface and rotated a top down image of a large house, “Thanks to our new found friends,” Miranda raised an eyebrow, “we know that the cream of Libertas’ society will converge on a party hosted by Johan Damacy, Lord Darcy twin brother and the colony’s Finance Minister, to pay their taxes via filling the Church of the Dominionist Reformation’s collection plate. The good Lord Darcy will be in attendance to thank them personally.”

“And where ever the Magistrate goes, Petrova is not far behind,” added Vega.

“Correct,” I zoomed in a trio of figures on the perimeter. “Now for the security. We have four sets of patrols composed of two guards armed with heavy pistols and a FENRIS security mech. They patrol in two shifts for a total of sixteen guards and eight mechs. We don’t know if there are anymore inside, but Darcy has a personal guard of between two to four plainclothes special police officers.”

Pasha chimed in,”Then you have his rapid response team. Alliance intel is sketchy on the exact numbers but it is estimated that three gunships are in quick reaction alert with an arrival on target no later than fifteen minutes from any alert.”

Vega leaned back against the bulkhead with his arms across his chest, “Figure one is there to extract the principal while the other two fly cover. They could also deploy troops as well. Say a squad each.”

“Which is why I want to keep this op simple and quiet. Emphasis on the quiet. Ideas?”

“Catering could work for cover. It’s a large party and people gotta eat,” said Vega.

“It is simple, but I don’t want to rely on a single ingress and egress route,” I said.

“We enter through the front door,” said Miranda.

I turned to Miranda,”Go on.”

Miranda smirked,  “Considering the tense situation between the Theocracy and the Alliance a clever Finance Minister would welcome a rich socialite with important friends in Arcturus.”

“Going in as the wife of a Spectre could be awkward,” I said.

“I have a catalog of aliases ready with full credentials. And to make my cover more credible, I will need a pair of bodyguards to accompany me. Say somebody with experience in guarding ViPs and an infiltrator would do nicely,” she said.

Vega and I looked at each other. “Sounds like we have our way in as well. Now, how do we secure the target….”





Leave a comment

Wondering where I have been?

Tweet of the Day: At the Bias: Mansplaning and the Power of Naming


Well I have been streaming! Yes, I have my own gaming stream channel and the game that I’m playing right now is Apotheon, a Greek Mythology based sidescrawler/platformer game.  You can join the stream at 9:00 p.m. Eastern (U.S.) or catch the VoDs on the channel: https://www.twitch.tv/lessonslearned1


And here is last night stream:

Leave a comment

TV Tropes Monday: The Paladin



Tweet of the Day: Wasted Youth 

The Paladin, that staple of modern fantasy stories and video games, thanks in large part to our old friend, D&D. The Paladin is a heroic champion of good, nearly incorruptible (we will get to that later), fighting the worse evil can offer with a stout heart secured in the knowledge that he is always right. They are the embodiment of the knightly ideals, chivalrous, honorable, and good to a fault.

And there lies the problem.

For you see, a character that starts out (at least in the archetypal/stereotypical sense) as perfect doesn’t have any character flaws that can lead to character growth. It is an unchanging character with little to offer except as either a path for the author to define what they thing is good and right or as a foil to the villains. So what can we do to change that? They are three common paths of character growth/change for the Paladin.

  1. Corruption: The Paladin falls from grace and either embraces the darkness, often becoming a champion for the other side, or finds a path to redemption.
  2. Changing World: It is not the Paladin that changes, but the world around them. Their church, order, nation collapses or they find out it is imperfect all along. Here the Paladin doesn’t change much, but must persevere in a world that actively fights them at every turn.
  3. Breaking the Haughty: The Paladin thought they were perfect, that their world view was incorruptible, but it turns out they were and are only human. Here the Paladin doesn’t fall out of grace so much as realize that they must temper their world view with the realities of the world they live in.

I for one like both a well crafted redemption arc (Avatar: The Last Airbender comes to mind), as well as a good character that faces the challenges of a world that doesn’t fit their views. Then again, the Paladin unwavering commitment to their ideals is perfect for a Greek style tragedy as well. Your choice writers, your choice.

Leave a comment

Tropes Monday: Tropes Vs. Women Comes to an End


Tweet of the Day:  The Mismeasure of Media 

Tropes vs. Women, a web series helmed by Anita Sarkeesian has come to an end. Long time readers know that I was and still am a fan of the series due to its concise, critical analysis of tropes in the medium of video games from a feminist point of view. The video games industry needed a series like this and we got it. But the criticism did not escape the ire of those who thought that nothing short of fawning genuflection of all things video games was a threat to their very existence and a direct attack on those who enjoy them. For those of us who didn’t have our heads so far into our own puckers, this series was a refreshing and at times painful look at our favorite pastime.

It also encouraged me to get into the business of game criticism and for that I thank you, Ms. Sarkeesian.

Leave a comment

Space for Rent: I Am Not Straight, I Am Heterosexual


Tweet of the Day: A Handmaid’s Tale Is a Warning to Conservative Women  


“I am a Christian.”

Are not Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Mormons, Mennonites, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, and Quakers not Christians? Or are they not the “right” kind of Christian? Which means that those other denominations are “wrong” somehow. It is true that any statement of identity is but inclusionary and exclusionary, that is, it defines those that share the identity as those that do not. But some, like the statement above are more about exclusion than inclusion, about separating what is “true” from what is “false”.

I’ve come to see the next statement in a similar manner:

“I am Straight.”

Why? Well lets look at the definition of the word:

Definition of straight

  1. 1a :  free from curves, bends, angles, or irregularities straight hair straight timberb :  generated by a point moving continuously in the same direction and expressed by a linear equation a straight line the straight segment of a curve

  2. 2a :  lying along or holding to a direct or proper course or method a straight thinkerb :  candid, frank a straight answerc :  coming directly from a trustworthy source a straight tip on the horsesd (1) :  having the elements in an order the straight sequence of events (2) :  consecutive12 straight dayse :  having the cylinders arranged in a single straight line a straight 8-cylinder enginef :  plumb, vertical the picture isn’t quite straight

  3. 3a :  exhibiting honesty and fairness straight dealingb :  properly ordered or arranged set the kitchen straight set us straight on that issue; also :  correct get the facts straightc :  free from extraneous matter :  unmixed straight whiskeyd :  marked by no exceptions or deviations in support of a principle or party votes astraight Democratic tickete :  having a fixed price for each regardless of the number soldf :  not deviating from an indicated pattern writes straight humor a straight-A studentg (1) :  exhibiting no deviation from what is established or accepted as usual, normal, or proper :  conventional; also :  square 5f (2) :  not using or under the influence of drugs or alcoholh :  heterosexual

Notice a pattern here? Many of these definitions are about moral character more than simple geometric description. Words like “normal”, “correct”, and “trustworthy” pop up. It becomes even more apparent when you look at the antonyms:

Near Antonyms improper, incorrect, indecorous, naughty, unbecoming, unseemly; corrupt, debased, debauched, degenerate, depraved, dissolute, libertine, perverted, reprobate; unprincipled, unscrupulous; atrocious, infamous, villainous; base, low, mean, vicious, vile; blameworthy, objectionable, offensive; iniquitous, nefarious; errant, erring, fallen

Antonyms bad, black, dishonest, dishonorable, evil, evil-minded, immoral, indecent, sinful, unethical, unrighteous, wicked, wrong

So when I use the term “Straight” I am not really saying anything about myself. However I am making a statement about others, a purely negative statement. I may have not meant it as such, and neither would you, but the more I think about it, the more it becomes apparent to me that it is an exclusionary word, a term of moral judgement more than a word that defines me in any meaningful capacity or with any accuracy.

I am not saying that you should not use the word, only that after some thought I have come to this conclusion.

So what do you think, oh gentle reader?


%d bloggers like this: