People often say to me: “Illusive Man, you callipygian super-being, what are your thoughts on X?” where X can be any topical issue of the moment. Well, I thought it was about time I got it all down in a post for everyone to read. If I’ve missed something important, feel free to let me know.
Downloadable Content: Starting with the big issues, here. Downloadable Content – or DLC as its more commonly known – features a variety of additional content that it is published for titles post-release of the actual game. This content can include additional missions, new characters, new weapons, alternate appearances and pretty much anything else the developers have a mind to develop. Its a pretty new phenomenon: in the old days, you bought a game on a cartridge or CD/DVD and that was it: that was the complete and finished piece of work. With the prevalence of high-speed internet and the increase in computer power available to consoles and desktop computers, it is increasingly common to see additional content and expansion packs released as downloadable content after the launch of a game title.
I don’t have any particular beef with DLC in and of itself: its a tool in the toolbox like a good many others, and its how its used that defines whether its good or bad. When new content is delivered for popular titles at a reasonable cost, this is a good thing. When content which could have easily been included with the game at launch is held back and released as Day 0 or Day 1 DLC, this is a bad thing. I’m looking at you, EA. Tools like this should be use responsibly, and not as a way to extract cash from people who are already forking out upwards of £40 for a brand-new release title.
DRM: DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is any one of a number of technologies designed to stop people from illegally copying games, movies, music or anything else which can be distributed electronically these days. I can understand why publishers like the use of DRM, it is, after all, a technology meant to stop people from stealing things. But by and large, the technology is intrusive and it doesn’t work. Frequently, DRM will be cracked within days of being launched, and pirate copies of the protected content will still start to circulate online: there will always be a core element of society that wants to steal, that doesn’t mean the rest of us should be inconvenienced in order to attempt to punish those who already have a way around the system, and don’t care about copyright issues anyway.
The music and film industries are main drivers behind DRM, but a lot of software now uses it, too. The film industry makes vast amounts of money from the content it produces: you only have to look at box office figures to know that they are rolling in the cash, and the small pirate movie market is nothing but an inconvenience for them: the use of DRM here is nothing short of absolute and total greed.
The music industry may have more of an axe to grind with DRM – their returns are nothing like what the film industry sees, so they have more vested interest in protecting their product. That said, when pirates can offer a better service than legitimate content providers, something is going very wrong. The reason that most of us get our music via Apple’s iTunes is because the big music companies were so short-sighted and blinded by their totalitarian greed, their need to control everything, and their resistance to change that they couldn’t see the opportunity that was the developing digital market. If they’d have been more open to moving forward, we might all be getting our music from Sony instead. That, coupled with the fact that changing behaviours have meant that people very rarely buy whole albums any more, preferring instead to simply buy the tracks they like, mean that DRM should be made a thing of the past: offer us better services; give the consumers what they want and you won’t need to cripple your products with DRM.
Moving on to software DRM, we find more pathetic excuses. Things like Steam – where all content is delivered electronically – can get away with it, because its an online store. But when I buy a title on physical media from a shop, and then can’t play it because it requires an always-on internet connection to dial back to a server in France, and that server is unavailable because the company that owns it is moving it from one side of the office to the other, we have a problem. Especially when John Doe the pirate who downloads an illegal, cracked, copy of the game can play it perfectly fine, because aside from the need to constantly contact the server, its a single player, offline game.
Find better content delivery mechanisms, and stop foisting broken products onto the market. Offer a better service than the pirates, and people won’t pirate. Simples.
Leaking Information: People idolise folks like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. They think these people lead some sort of noble crusade against the evils of government tyranny. By-and-large the people who champion their causes have no idea of what they’re campaigning for. Its all very well for Mr Assange to claim that leaked diplomatic and intelligence-related cables have been “anonymised” – had all the names removed – but Assange doesn’t know the overall scope and context that these documents fit in, and neither do the people cheering him on. I have, in the past, worked on the “official” side of this fence, and when dealing with intelligence, you never give anything away. You never know how much information the other side already has: our enemies may not have needed names – they could already know those. They may have only needed phone numbers, dates or locations: information that Mr Assange and his cohorts have provided on a plate, because they don’t know what they’re doing.
True, there are instances in which leaking information is a good thing: there have been several occasions where worried medical staff have leaked details about sub-standard care in hospitals, which have led to individuals responsible being arrested, and care greatly improved. This is good; leaking intelligence and handing our secrets over to our enemies is not good. If we’d have had Assange and his lackeys around during the Cold War, the Russians wouldn’t have needed a spy ring – Julian would have handed all the information over for them! These people are not heroes to be idolised: they are threats to society and should be dealt with accordingly.
Religion: I am not a fan of organised religion in any form. Modern science confirms that they are largely all bullshit, yet they are still used as an excuse for ignorance, repression, oppression and violence. Jesus is supposed to be the Prince of Peace, but more blood has been spilled in his name over the past thousand years than any other person in history. Cruel and evil people have manipulated the translations of ancient texts in order to keep the largely ignorant mass of the population under control and in a state of fear. They don’t offer the path to any truth or understanding: and how can they, when they’re all fairly recent inventions? The religions we know now were built after the religions of the older civilisations were torn down, and every religion that has come and gone across the whole of time has purported to be the truth, and since none of them survive, they clearly don’t.
Then there are those religions which are constructs of a modern age: Scientology, for instance, is dangerous and evil. Requiring vast subscription fees and an almost mindless adherence to the “fact” that we are all the reborn ancient spirits of beings killed thousands of years by an evil galactic warlord called Xenu, it makes me wonder how anyone can take this kind of crap seriously.
Regarding the existence of God (or whatever he’s called in your religion of choice) – I don’t have any empirical evidence that he doesn’t exist; you don’t have any that he does. Science has provided more answers about the universe, medicine, the human condition and the planet we live on in the past 20 years than your religion has in the last 200. So its very unlikely that God exists in some kind of heavenly kingdom. Again, we teach children from an early age that having imaginary friends is a bad thing, and they should grow out of it, yet there are good number of adults that believe in their imaginary friend in the sky…
Indeed, a lot of religions fall down on a basic premise: take Christianity, for example. The premise is that a benevolent God who loves us all is in Heaven watching over his loved ones. Sounds nice, right? All falls down when you have to explain to a grieving mother why kindly old Jehovah saw fit to run over young Timmy with a combine harvester. Relating to the violence used as a control and repression mechanism within religions, we only have to look at the week Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space: science and technology allowed him to do this, and land safely; at the same time, religious nut-cases were shooting girls in the head because they wanted to learn to read.
There are parts of religion that I do quite like, however: the more humanist aspects, specifically relating to just being nice to people. But as Bill and Ted prove, you don’t need an organised religion or a priest who’s probably a paedophile to live by the philosophy of just treating people with respect and decency.
Paedophiles: Find them, kill them. Job done. People who abuse children, as well as those that make excuses for them are the lowest form of shit.
Government: Politicians are not a ruling class. Their power comes from a mandate to govern which is provided by a democratic survey of the masses conducted by means of an election. They should remember this when they make and introduce laws. They should also remember that they are the servants of the people who are chosen to represent our best interests, not their own best interests. Any MP who is caught committing fraud against the very tax payers that pay them should be sent to jail and never allowed to stand in public office again; this kind of act is next to treason in my eyes and should not be tolerated. Politicians should also remember that what’s good for the proverbial goose is also good for the gander: meaning that they shouldn’t enact laws they wouldn’t want to live under themselves. MPs who enact laws intended to spy on private individuals for no good reason shouldn’t be surprised when those same laws are used on them.
Global Warming: Not actually happening. Anthropogenic Global Warming – man-made climate change – is a fiction created by “scientists” after lucrative government grants, the wilful ignorance of politicians keen on receiving cash and donations from lobbyists, and the lack of knowledge a few hippies have about power generating technologies. Of course, these things aren’t helped by the mainstream media either: a large number of “journalists” thrive on creating and spreading fear of nuclear technologies without understanding a single thing about them. Yes, I accept that we do need to being the move away from fossil fuels. There is only a finite supply of coal, oil and gas – and hence any derivatives of those – which means we need to think seriously about replacements.
For cars and other motor vehicles, this is likely to be the hydrogen fuel cell: the technology is a number of years of development away from becoming mainstream, but in time I see this replacing the internal combustion engine as we know it, whilst leaving the concept of the car largely the same as we have always known it.
For future power generation, we must look to nuclear. True, fission carries the problems of the potential of nuclear accidents and nuclear waste, but as I have mentioned in comments on previous posts relating to nuclear technology, we have a fantastic safety record in this country, and we should use that to help us move forward. With regards to nuclear waste, a lot of it can be re-enriched and used again, and we have established processes for disposing of the waste, which have served us well for over 50 years. Even so, developments in nuclear technologies are promising greater rewards than ever: the ITER project, currently being constructed in the south of France and backed by a consortium of the world’s leading nuclear nations, promises fusion power as a result of its development. Fusion means unlimited clean energy, and is the best source of power possible this side of antimatter. The so-called “renewables” that the hippies want us to invest in are pointless by comparison.
I’m sure there are other topics that I could include on this list, but that’ll do for now. Anything I may have missed, or anything you may want to know my thoughts on will have to wait for a future post.