Friday, July 30, 2010

Representation without Taxation?

Let me begin by saying, this isn't a brown-white thing. I don't hate Mexicans. Unless they're being stupid. Or not paying their taxes. Or committing crimes.
Why, just this morning, I say a van broke down in the middle of the street. The young man driving it was doing his best to push it to the side of the road, but cars kept driving around him. Not a damn one of them stopping to help. I stopped, asked if he needed help. The young man turned out to be hispanic. And he barely spoke english. If I was truly race-biased, I'd have driven on, like the assholes I watched go by. But no, I stopped, got out, and helped this kid push his van across the street to a parking lot.
No, my issue with all the illegals is taxes. They don't pay them.
Let me tell you a little story. A tale of how a band of people crossed the border with their neighboring country, without permission. How they fed off the land, stole from the citizens of this neighboring country and refused to pay taxes, or contribute in any way. The people in this neighboring country didn't like it. They rebelled against the invaders, some of whom killed them. The invadees' government didn't protect them- they rolled over to the invaders, giving in to demands and handing over their nation's riches.
The Nazi Wehrmacht crossed into France in May 1940, cleverly sneaking around the ginormous Maginot Line the French had belt to keep them out. In case you're wondering, the Maginot Line was a massive wall of fortifications built along the French-German border precisely to keep the Germans out. But the Nazis just went around it.
Once inside France, the Nazis quickly defeated the French forces, then began to steal from the French citizens. Nazi soldiers took what they wanted; food, women, physical property. The French Government didn't organize a rebellion, they caved in and adopted socialism, and fell right into step with Hitler. Meanwhile, French citizens who didn't like having what little their government hadn't taxed being stolen by the invaders, formed a resistance. They fought back.
The United States faces a similar, if less organized, threat to the south. Illegal immigrants are pouring through gaps in our border and stealing from us. They don't come in and become citizens and pay taxes. They sneak in and become freeloaders. Using our roads, without paying taxes to upkeep them. Putting kids in our schools, without paying taxes to keep up the schools or hire more teachers. They are a burden on our society. Spanish-speaking bums.
If someone snuck into your home while you were at work, and set up residence in your basement and started eating your food, watching your TV, running the air conditioner you normally kept off during the day and otherwise running up your utilities, would you let them stay? Or would you call the police to have them thrown out?
Why then is it so bad for Arizona to want to get rid of illegals? Last I checked, the United States still has a citizenship process where anyone can come and go through the process to become a citizen. We aren't saying we don't want any hispanics here. We just want them to come here legally and start paying their fair share.
The United States was founded when a bunch of angry people in New England decided that paying taxes but having no real say in their destiny sucked. They called it "taxation without representation". They set forth a precedent that if you want our tax money, you have to give us something in return. The flip side of the that should be a cornerstone of our nation as well: if you want to live here, and get services, your lazy ass needs to pay taxes. Why should the color of your skin exclude you from taxation?
Coming to this country and taking, taking, taking... why that's no better than being a Nazi. Just ask the French.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stolen Valor, or Infringed Speech?

Let me preface this rant by declaring I am a veteran of the USAF (1990-1994) but that I have no combat awards, medals, etc other than the Nat'l Defense Medal given just for being on Active Duty during a conflict.

So I was watching Fox News this morning, and they have this schmuck on TV whining about how a Court ruled the "Stolen Valor" law unconstitutional. Stolen Valor? WTH?

Apparently, this law was passed in 2005 and makes it a Federal Misdemeanor to lie about military awards. Indirectly. Under the act, it is illegal for unauthorized persons to wear, buy, sell, barter, trade or manufacture "any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces." (-Wiki)

What's next? Are we going to criminalize women lying about their age or weight? Make it a crime to ly to women in bars about your marital status, what car you drive or your profession?

Whiney-ass this morning on TV felt that liars cheapen the awards. He was upset that his fallen comrade in arms never got to see their awards- they were posthumously given.

Hey, dumbass, heroes don't do it for the glory.

I absolutely can't stand jackasses that have to rub it in everybody's face they were a Navy SEAL, or they have a purple heart, etc. etc. I'm not saying they shouldn't have been given an award, but let's be brutally honest. Medal of Honor winners didn't charge machine gun nests thinking "Damn, this medal is going to look AWESOME on my uniform!" No, they did what had to be done out of selfless heroism. And anyone who brags about their medals is a complete ass.

Think about it this way, Mr. Medal-Winning-Whiney-Ass. You are bragging about how you killed people and got a shiney award for it. God forbid someone else claim to be a killer just to get some bling. Maybe you should think about why anyone brags about something like that. Heroes don't brag. Heroes tend to stay mum on the subject. It's attention-seeking punks that brag- whether the source of bragging is true or not.

Is it despicable to lie about military service? Yes. It is. We veterans- whether or not we won any awards- sacrificed our freedoms and liberties, and some, their lives, to ensure the freedoms and liberties of all Americans. Liberties like freedom of speech.

Those who went above and beyond were given awards, not to wave around and brag with, but as thanks for exemplary duty. Anyone who rubs such an award- earned, or imagined- in your face cheapens all award winners.

Society is full of people with inferiority complexes. They hang plastic testicles on their trucks. They wear flashy jewlery. They stick their noses in the air. These are all indicators of people desperate to make you believe they are better than you. Precisely because deep down, they don't believe it themselves. But do we really need to criminalize people who try to make themselves feel better? Isn't the fact they know they are liars enough? Yes it's wrong they claim to have saved lives, but short of making the claim to commit some kind of fraud, do we really need to pass judgement on them? Surely our judgement won't be as bad as the judgement they've already passed on themselves.

Maybe Mr. I-got-a-bronze-star-and-you-didn't should think more about his fallen comrades, and be thankful he isn't one of them, than trying to get people locked up for self-aggrandizing lies.

This whole story reminds me of a classic military saying: "There are old pilots, and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots."

I guess next, we'll start going after all those "ninjas" running around.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Xbox Live Arcade's Deadliest Warrior

There's a new game on Xbox Live Arcade, and it's ready to kick some serious ass.

I'm talking about "Deadliest Warrior"- based on the TV series of the same name.

For only 800 MS points, you get a 3rd person fighting game that features opponents from different historical eras, armed with melee and some ranged weapons, ready to hack each others limbs and heads off. It's a lot of gruesome, bloody fun.


The Ninja- this sneaky, pajama-clad assassin from Japan brings a Ninjato sword and a chain thingey to the rumble, with some shuriken in reserve. While's he's about as armored as a Kleenex, he can hop and jump all over the screen. He's super-fast, too.

The Samurai- for real warfare, the Samurai comes equipped with a Katana, a Spear/blade thingey, a bow and arrow and some bad-ass armor. The Samurai can slice and dice fast, but isn't as nimble on his feet as the Ninja. And while he may have been able to take out a horde of soldiers, one-on-one doesn't seem his forte.

The Apache Warrior- I laughed when I first saw this guy included. His body paint offers less protection than the ninja's pajamas. But he has a stone knife, some hatchets, a bow and arrow, and dances around like a pansy just as good as the Ninja. Very annoying to lose to this guy when you're covered in armor plate.

The Spartan- with a shield big enough to go sledding on, a short sword, a thrusting spear and some javelins, and bronze armor, the Spartan is a bad dude. He strikes super quick, over and over, without getting tired.

The Centurion- Rome's Empire lasted a thousand years, so the Centurion is not to be trifled with. He's basically the iron-age version of the Spartan, with a smaller shield, a better sword, javelins and spear. He's not as fast as a Spartan, and can knock you down with his lighter shield.

The Viking- Santa Claus is coming to town, and he's got chainmail armor, a sword, a huge axe and a wooden shield. For naughty boys that run away, he's got two javelins. The Viking is big, strong but a little slow.

The Knight- Anybody got a can opener? Cause this knight is covered head to toe in metal plate. And he has a shield. He wields a crusader-looking sword, a poleaxe and has a crossbow he recocks using his feet.

The Pirate- This drunken boob has a cutlass, a dagger, a flintlock pistol and can kick you like the jackass he is.


One thing I always hated about fighting games was trying to remember all the complicated special moves. Up+down+side+up+throw-my-controller-at-the-TV.

Deadliest Warrior keeps it simple. Left stick moves you around. Y button is a high attack, X a mid-level, A a low-level. B triggers your ranged attack. Squeeze either trigger and you block- by lifting a shield or weapon. Left bumper switches your weapons- for example from sword-and-shield to battleaxe. On some guys, the right stick triggers a special move, like the Ninja's cheerleader cartwheel, or the Pirate's nutcracker kick (at least I think so- I personally don't play pajama boys or sots)

The match (a 1, 3 or 5 round bout) starts with each fighter facing each other on opposite sides of the screen. You can lob spears, 'stars or gunshots at your foe, or charge in. Unlike older fighting games, you can't just mash buttons to win (a tactic I used to employ against my wife on the Sega Genesis, irritating her to no end). For one, your fighter will tire if you mash buttons over and over. For another, he actually exposes himself to counterstrikes. For example, if I use a Spartan, I move in, shield up and let my opponent strike first. As he recovers from his strike, I unleash a barrage of sword attacks, most of which land on his mid-section. Similarly, when using a thrusting spear, aim for the mid-section, even against shield-bearing opponents, and you seem to do better. On the other hand, when my Santa Viking uses the battleaxe, I find a high-level attack works best, arcing the axehead down from above.

During a match, you might want to switch weapons. You start with a light weapon, say a shield and sword, that work fairly well together. If you switch to your heavy weapon, say, Santa's Axe, you can't use your shield, and your attack is slower. I highly recomend against trying to chop wood against a more nimble opponent like the Sleepover Ninja.

As you take hits, your health bar is depleted, until you are felled. The graphics are fairly graphic, too. You'll see fighters with spears sticking out of their chests, or with limbs lopped off, squirting blood from stumps like Monty Python's Holy Grail Black Knight. Heads come off too.

At the end of the round, the winner has a little animation where he rubs it in he just kicked your ass. Oh, and you can taunt enemies in combat by pressing the back button, trigger an animation. Santa the Red for example bangs his sword on his shield, throws back his head and says "Ho, ho, ho" (okay, maybe not, but he does yell). When you taunt, you're open for attack.


But wait! There's more! If you play single Player arcade mode, you can unlock better gear. Santa can replace his sword with a hatchet that is great for punching through armor. He upgrades his battleaxe to a halberdy-looking thing, and he trades his two, individually-thrown spears for two dual- thrown heavy spears. He can also upgrade his chainmail to this plated, feathery, pimp-looking armor I wouldn't be caught dead in.

Each fighter has unlocks, but sadly, it doesn't appear you can use other folks weapons. I'd personally love to have Santa the Red wielding the Knights Shield, a Katana and some Kamas, but no go.


The game has a bunch of modes. In single player you can fight practice rounds, where your opponent stands there and takes it like a side of beef, is controlled by the CPU and fights back, or is controlled by someone else in the room- like your five year old daughter, who then cries when you stick a spear through her fighter's head, and won't play with you anymore.

Next there's a battle mode where you can fight your braver, 10 year old daughter, who doesn't cry when you behead her fighter, but seems to enjoy the blood and carnage a bit too much for a girl. However, being a 10 yr old, she quickly loses interest in dulling your sword and you then have to fight the computer/CPU.

Finally, there's ARCADE mode. In this, your fighter faces off against each of the 7 other combatants, one by one, unlocking weapons along the way.

Plus, I should mention that the game has three difficulty settings- Normal (like there's anything normal about a Ninja and an Apache fighting), Hard, and "Deadliest Warrior" (how cheesy).

When you get done unlocking the more serious weapons of destruction, the kids won't play with you anymore and you tire of beating the Xbox's CPU up one side and down the other, it's time to face off against anonymous 8 yr old kids on Xbox Live- that hurl taunts and take it personally when you beat them, instead of enjoying the dismembering fun of the game.

At least with ranked matches you shouldn't encounter these Rugrat, unsupervised kids more than once.


I guess I'll mention there are different arenas. Ordinarily I wouldn't give a shit, but the bamboo sanctuary is cool because as you're fileting your oppnent, you might accidentally slice down a bamboo tree. Very cool. The Castle courtyard has some flags that can be knocked down, but they just confuse me and think a spear was thrown at me. There's a Greek ampitheater as well, that looks suspiciously like one of the levels from the AVP game. And there's the fight lab, with red grid on the floor and pig, test carcasses hanging from the ceiling.


First, there needs to be more fighters. But, as the game has a built-in downloadable content option, that's clearly coming.

Secondly, I want to mix and match weapons, not just fighters. I want my Santa Viking to have a flintlock pistol, a Spartan sword and the Centurions short sword. And I bet some pajama-wearing Ninja's would like a shield to hide behind or sleep in later.

The game really needs some tweaking. There is simply no way a Chainmail-wearing Viking should ever beat a Samuraii in a sword fight. But I did- I beheaded the Samurai, much to my surprise. Similarly, a ninja with a spear sticking through his heart, shouldn't be able to still cartwheel around like a ballerina. And no one will ever convince me that a stone Apache knife can sever an armor-plated Knights arm.

Finally, the game is based on a show where you sit back and watch people argue about the killing power of weapons, test said weapons, then actors do a dramatization of what a battle might look like. Often while I eat my dinner. So why the f*ck doesn't the game have a CPU vs CPU mode where I can pick the fighters, their gear, then enjoy the fight?


Overall, this game is lots of sick fun. I played it for three or four hours last night. My kids- while they wouldn't play against me- enjoyed watching the carnage. My five year old played (on "Normal") herself and as a pink ninja (yes, you can change your fighter's colors) was whiping the floor with the CPU-controlled Apache. Which was kind of surprising. My favorite moment in the game is when I hurl a Viking spear at random across the arena in the opening seconds of a game and spears right through the head of my opponent, ending the match. Ho, ho, ho, bitch.

Yeah, it isn't a simulator. Even AVP has more "realism". But for $10, what do you expect?