Monday, September 16, 2019

The Super Rich Problem

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It has become trendy within the past few years to blame all of the country's problems on the "super rich," roughly defined (by me) as those making more than a couple million dollars per year. And yet, while I would agree that they are in large part responsible for today's lack of social mobility, worsening income inequality, and more, I would argue that blaming them for everything risks misdirecting from another problem. 

What am I referring to? The apathy of the so-called "upper-middle class." Personally, I would define this as individuals making around $100,000 a year, or families making a combined income upwards of $200,000 a year (depending on where you live of course, adjust the numbers upwards if you are living somewhere like San Francisco).

While it is true that these people don't have as much power and influence individually as the super rich, I think that, as a collective, they pretty much shape the direction of politics in the United States via their combined purchasing power and influence over those of us who are less fortunate than they are.

And I think the problem here is that this class of folks too often uses the "super rich" as a scapegoat to excuse their own political inaction. They take the stance that, because they aren't Jeff Bezos, they aren't going to affect change to the same extent. This results in them bowing out of the political game, choosing to sit on the sidelines rather than to take steps to ensure that society moves forward. 

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

With GreedFall, Spiders Has Replaced Bioware

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Hi all: short update for today. At the end of August I wrote an article about GreedFall, which, at the time, was an upcoming roleplaying game being made by Spiders scheduled to release on September 10th. Soon after I wrote that piece, I decided to preorder GreedFall (something I practically never do—the last time was for Mass Effect: Andromeda). On Tuesday I received my copy in the mail. These are my initial thoughts.

First things first: WOW. I have nothing but good things to say about GreedFall, and I haven't even left the first city yet (for those of you who have played Knights of the Old Republic, think of it as GreedFall's version of Taris). Immediately, the game demonstrates its strengths. The first few main quests you complete branch off into several side quests, each of which can be completed in a variety of manners and offers as much moral complexity as the best side quests in The Witcher 3.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

My Experience With Racism On Twitter

I blocked out this person's username to protect their privacy.

A few days ago I witnessed firsthand just how racist this country can be. To give you the short version, this is how things went down: I replied to a Tweet written by UC Berkeley Professor Robert Reich advocating for the removal of the Electoral College. In my reply I agreed with Professor Reich, noting how the Electoral College works to the advantage of states with populations that lean towards a conservative political perspective. I also compared the Electoral College to the 3/5ths Compromise, in that the Electoral College serves to empower states with conservative views much to the same extent that the 3/5ths Compromise empowered slave states in the lead-up to the Civil War.

For about twelve hours nothing came of it besides a few likes and comments supporting what I said. Then it happened. A tidal wave of conservatives descended on my Tweet, and all of the sudden my notifications were flooded with people saying things like "you don't know the constitution, boy," or some variant of that. Other people made the ironic choice to laud the Electoral College as a symbol of freedom while simultaneously defending the 3/5ths Compromise and downplaying its effect on slave state's political power.

Perhaps the most racist reply I received is the one screenshotted above. In it the person does a few things. They first mock my intelligence by implying that I should know better as a "history phd candidate." They then claim that I said the Electoral College is racist, which I never did. Next they pat my head and tell me that, because I am of the "Philippines population" I must not comprehend "American" politics (implying Filipinos can't be true Americans). Then they question my legality, assuming that because I'm brown, Filipino, and have the last name Garcia, I must be undocumented, and thus, lesser than them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Will Hayden Christensen Return in Rise of Skywalker?

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So I watched the new Star Wars trailer this week, as many of you did. But I think my main takeaway was probably different from most. The most shocking thing to me in that trailer was not the presence of "Dark Rey," which I'd figured might happen since the release of episode VII. No, what was surprising to me was the use of so many scenes from the prequels.

Why did that shock me? Well let's think back to episode VII and VIII for a moment. What kinds of references did we get to the prequels? Ewan McGregor's disembodied voice? A line of dialogue about Palpatine's rise to power? Meanwhile, those who grew up with the original trilogy were inundated with references and callbacks to episodes IV, V, and VI.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Is GreedFall the Bioware RPG We've Been Waiting For?

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If you think about it, this is the first time in a long time that Bioware has failed to provide us with an industry-defining roleplaying game within a given console generation. During the original Xbox era, Bioware provided us with two classics, Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. For the Xbox 360 and PS3, Bioware crafted Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins, two games often hailed as the pinnacle of western RPGs.

For the PS4 and Xbox One, Bioware has largely flopped. Their one success was Dragon Age: Inquisition, though it's a cross-generation title as well as a sequel, so I'm not sure if it counts. It's also an "open world" game, which in my opinion went too far away from what Bioware's strengths are. The other two games they released were even more problematic. Mass Effect: Andromeda failed to capture one iota of the original trilogy's storytelling brilliance, and Anthem is already dead in the water six months after it launched as EA's flagship "live service" gaming experience.

But this isn't an article focused on critiquing Bioware. That's already been done to death, and I think at this point we can all agree that the Bioware we all knew and loved is gone forever. No, this article is about the game GreedFall, and whether it might serve as a proper heir to Bioware's masterpieces.