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Nov. 14th, 2011 @ 01:57 am in which kevin reoccupies wall street, part two
Most of this post was originally written in response to a question by my former housemate on Facebook on what Wall Street actually does. It summarizes what I spent this afternoon telling the protest camp at Zuccotti Park today. He requested that I post it on a blog somewhere, so here goes.

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Nov. 14th, 2011 @ 01:31 am in which kevin reoccupies wall street, part one
So, I caved and finally went down to Zuccotti Park to see what all the fuss was about. Read more...Collapse )
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Oct. 14th, 2011 @ 10:48 pm 26
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(Written on the way home from Comic-Con 2011)

Someday, if I sell enough
video games, I'll be rich enough
to afford one
Someday I'll have my own office
at a game company someone's heard of
in a room that doesn't always smell like cat shit
in a building that doesn't always smell like cat shit
and I'll line a bookshelf with souvenirs
from half my life--an old
microchip, a wooden ghost, a handmade owl,
a Sherman tank in the shape of an anime girl--
tastefully arrayed above
the desk where I make
the other half--
instead of taping them shut
in a cardboard box
Someday I'll live in a room bigger than a closet
(no, that's not hyperbole)
and watch enough movies to follow conversations
without consulting Wikipedia
Someday I'll measure the price of a comic book
in something other than days of rent

Someday I'll have a DVD collection
Someday I'll have a bunch of friends I can just call some weekend
and ask if they want to hang out
or talk about William Shatner
or watch Community
or argue about McLuhan or McCain or McGonigal
or play that new video game I bought
while we complain about how our lives are going
Someday I will stop using my chessboard as a coffee table
and my copy of Apples to Apples as a paperweight
Someday I won't be ashamed
of liking My Little Pony

Someday I'll stop obsessing over Charles Schulz's little redhead,
the fujoshi playwrit
the Star Wars animatrix
the steampunk librarienne
the superheroine seamstress
the not your average girl reporters--
the Felicia Days, the Lauren Fausts,
who won't take shit for an answer
and aren't full of no
Someday I'll quote Pride and Prejudice
in my bedroom voice
to a woman who quotes Princess Bride
in her bedroom voice

Someday I'll learn to play "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"
both the Bob Dylan version and the Guns 'n' Roses version
Someday I'll go to a con dressed up like Terry Bogard
and you'll go dressed up as Aradia Megido
and in a roped-off nook of the convention center we'll have
the most flagrantly non-canon makeout
in the history of chainsaws
Someday I'll hum the Chrono Trigger ending song
as you're drifting off to sleep, and you'll hear it in my chest
and surprise me with the OCRemix vocals,
the pixietricks to my zircon
Someday I'll bore you with the parable of
the Atari ST and the cathode ray tube,
how a lifetime has to happen in the instant
between the first scanline and the last
and you'll just laugh
and call me a dork

Someday I'll go dancing and not come back alone
Someday I won't lie in the grass late at night and fall asleep in the quiet
Someday I'll make love in a mosh pit

Someday I'll take for granted
the opinion of an average
woman on the shape of a
bagel relative to the starch
content of the dough as just
another idle observation
and not
the most beautiful thing I've ever heard

Some days I'll shut my laptop
stare into the afterimage it
smolders into the dark
reach out to the
blistering antiviolet and
feel myself
running out
of someday

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Sep. 26th, 2011 @ 02:27 am bronies before honies: fandom is magic
Current Music: Rock Plaza Central - Are We Not Horses?

Shit, there's no way to measure it
Not everypony grows up to be a pegasus
You gotta let people be hypocrites
Count your blessin's and mind your business

- Atmosphere, "Like the Rest of Us"

If, twenty years ago, you had told me I would be voluntarily attending a My Little Pony convention, I probably would have run into traffic. Twenty years and two death-defying auto accidents later, here I am, dancing to a techno remix of a song about dressmaking with a bunch of teenagers in homemade unicorn costumes.

This isn't as Lord of the Flies as it sounds. I can explain. Honest.

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Sep. 25th, 2011 @ 07:16 am shakespeare had his sonnets. i have love letters to okcupid
Current Mood: hornydating is hilariously sad
Current Music: Jackie Greene - Call Me, Corinna
Tags: ,

Excerpts from actual messages I have sent to unfamiliar women on OKCupid since January.

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Jul. 30th, 2011 @ 06:09 am in case anyone is wondering why lj keeps going down

Politics, basically.

Selling LJ to a Russian security contractor turned out to be a bad idea on Six Apart's part. One, no real competition in Russia, so it keeps fading further into irrelevance in the Western market as the dev team continues to roll out features only Russian users care about. Two,
it exposes LJ to the Russian hacker community's particularly Chekovian sense of irony.

Pass me the vodka, SUP, this infant isn't going to shoot itself. What's that you say? The infant has been eaten by bears? Preved! A toast to Comrade Bear for sparing us from such an unpleasant task! Perhaps now we can go back to trying to buy wives.

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Jun. 28th, 2011 @ 07:29 am voices of chinese democracy
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Reading chinaSMACK makes me lose faith in the Chinese Internet. Reading the China Digital Times helps me regain it.

Neither voice is truly representative of Chinese public opinion--both are run by foreigners with agendas. (Pot, kettle, black, I know.) But oh, how good it feels that someone over there is able to look through the gilded lens of China's unsustainable economic growth, and say, on their own merits, without any of the Western influence China is all too willing to blame every time it faces dissent, "This is really fucked up. Something's got to give."

Li Chengpeng, a blogger and well-known political writer, has the audacity to challenge the Chinese Communist Party as an independent candidate for congressperson of Chengdu Province. He's not going to win--it's an open secret that the elections are rigged by the CCP. He knows this. It won't stop him from running anyway:

Some claim that Chinese do not deserve a democratic election. It reminds me of the fact that I used to consider myself an elite and liked to say things like they have been kneeling down for so long that they don’t remember the benefits of standing up. I thought what I said made me look cool and profound. But now I start to realize that they kneel down because the ceiling is too low; they have no choice. On the other hand, we kneel down as well–we just do that and pretend to be high-end. The reality is that if one has never tasted an apple, how can he/she have the knowledge of how good an apple can be? Once a person experiences the good taste of an apple, he/she will look forward to the sweet taste of all apples.

[....]Some of my close friends have been skeptical of what we can achieve by participating in this election considering the current situation in China. My response to that is as least we can let many people see what a real ballot looks like for the first time. I’ve often heard people claiming they are Chinese citizens–but how can you prove it? A national identity card can only prove that the cooking knife belongs to you so it’ll be easier for the police to track you down for murder. A real estate title can only prove that you’ve rented the world’s most expensive but fragile housing. A birth certificate can only prove that you’ve been abandoned by the world’s largest human resource organization and need to pay high educational expenses, medical bills, and gas prices till the day you die. What? A death certificate? Sorry, but you can only rest (peacefully) underground for 20 years. You cannot prove you belong to this country for the 70 years you live above the ground, and you cannot even be a ghost of this country for 20 years of resting underground.

[....]An anonymous Internet user has a very good point here: If you really perceive ballots as decorations, then they will be.

A dialogue between Cao Tian, independent Guangzhou mayoral candidate, who is running under the same pretenses, and a friend who is a CCP official:

For the nation’s progress, [I] am willing to pay any price, including my life. The future of China’s reforms is uncertain and filled with challenges. If there are [figurative] land mines, then let those of us [born] after the 60s should go forward first and set an example for the post 80s and 90s [generations][...]there is one thing that I still want. It’s what the Mafei county chief said in the movie “ Let the Bullets Fly.” He said that his government was there in Echeng to ensure three things: fairness, fairness and f**king fairness....

If I die before accomplishing my objective, then I will tell my young daughter: after I am dead, burn a ballot on my grave.

From Han Han, China's most popular blogger and legendary smartass, on CCP propaganda shills:

Every government has a mechanism for propagating their perspective, [so] that is excusable. But the Fifty Cent Party is the government’s mistake, before I thought they existed to guide public opinion, but it seems I was wrong, because you wouldn’t, upon seeing a crowd of people eating shit, squeeze your way in to have a bite yourself.

Actually pretty much anything Han Han writes is golden. In a splendid interview with an unnamed Canadian news source:

Question: Do you miss Google? Why?

Answer: Actually, I don’t miss Google at all. Google is just like a young girl. One day she runs up to you and says: “I want to leave you.” I say, “Don’t be like that, sweetheart.” The most hurtful thing is, at the end she still leaves you. But I realized that, actually, when I think of her, I can still always get on her whenever I want.

The only difference is that before, when I got on her, I could get a few carrots out of her. Now when I ask, “What about the carrots?”– she will just disappear instantly.

And, on the detrimental effect of press censorship on Chinese culture, during a speech at Xiamen University:

We can’t forever keep talking about the Four Classics or Confucius’ Analects during exchanges with people from other nations. It’s like when your date asks you about your financial situation, and you say your ancestors several generations ago were really rich. Pretty useless....

Only when we fight against cultural censorship, when we liberate phrases and words from the “sensitive words database“, with the exception of inhumane words, only then will China stand a chance to become a cultural power. Even if your and my name go into that database for a while, I believe there is a ceiling to the number of words the database can contain. Every time a new one goes in, it pushes the whole thing closer to its ceiling until one day, it comes crashing down.

And let's not forget this gorgeous (anonymous) poem about the Great Divide. The events described are modern but the sentiment is timeless.
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caonima, censorship
Jun. 22nd, 2011 @ 04:19 pm kevin, why don't you date asian women anymore
Current Mood: racist
What do you see in the face of a local white American woman?

I see swaying maples. I see hazel in her irises, and hair the color of warm earth, and gentle, soft skin. I see memories of Saturday morning cartoons, of the prick of rocks and shells in the sand along a hot July beach, of the sweet tang of varnished libraries and ancient drywall. I see hands sticky with toast crumbs. I see the coppery sting of combination locks and patent-aluminum lockers, and the grassy bite of wild grapes, and the one spot on the fingerboard of an old steel-string acoustic guitar where your finger sticks to the grain.

I see a quiet moment in a convenience store parking lot, engine thrumming, stars out--a pebble of oranges and cream snow, wet on a plastic straw. I see a long, quilted scarf flapping against the bite of an ice-bright October morning. I see Robert Frost branches spidering upwards into an Annie Dillard sky. I see a single autumn leaf, woody and defiant, green with life.

I see nothing exotic. I see home.

What do you see in the face of a Taiwanese woman?

I see plaster of Paris. I see a windowless room in her cold, hollow pupils, its brutal concrete dry and cracked, searing with the spiritless glow of a white xenon tube. I see a piano with muted hammers. I see the sharp, tintinnitic bark of a furious parent over a gurgle of pink noise. I see sheets of shipping-grade corrugated steel, rusted brown and seawater grey, plated over every surface. I see Hello Kitty douche rags. I see meat sludge over hard, day-old rice, laid over sweetly with a slice of neon ginger and a veneer of raw, runny egg.

I see an involuntary twitch in her right eyelid. I see a thin paper tape of black glyphs vomiting endlessly out of a cast iron typewriter, silently churning ribbons upon echolalic ribbons onto a polished bamboo floor. I see an imagined, omnipresent bamboo switch (there's the twitch, again). I see sweat boiling in a cauldron under a canopy of rotting palm leaves. I see the sensation of falling, of forever slipping off the edge of a sand-blasted cliff. I see a piece of another woman's small intestine, clenched tightly and desperately between her teeth.

I see, caught in her lips, the pent-up squawk of a voice unused to speaking above a whisper.

I see a horrific spiked phallus, its filamented, garrote-like needles dripping with viscera. I see a schoolgirl uniform cut for a thirty-year-old woman. I see a thirteen-year-old slathered in makeup. I see an opera sung entirely in shrieking, high-pitched sobs. I see a cracked stone altar at the shrine of innocence, slick and acrid with steaming virginal blood. I see pink--pink pencil cases, pink notebooks, pink earrings, pink elephants, pink eye, pink pockets. I see a trembling, androgynous overgrown fetus.

I see thick lines, delicately painted, in black and white. I see a tall, cool cup of green tea, sweet with mint and crushed ice, sealed with plastic film, on an endless cobblestone square. I see a flock of transparent kites over the harbor, soaring quietly in place over lush, verdant hills. I see a lump of crushed sesame dough on a glass table in front of a blaring television. I see a shattered glass table. I see the long, crying trails of raindrops down a double plate window. I see a fine bone teacup filled with water. I see a red-eyed ogre in a greasy wifebeater shoveling a mouthful of boiled fish into his toothless maw with a pair of steel chopsticks.

I see, in the reflection of my eyes in hers, a dragon. Not a shimmering golden dragon, but a reptilian one, its horns migraine-hot, breathing smoke from its nostrils and drooling semen from its lips. I see a foot bent halfway to the ankle, bent so far the ligaments rip apart and the bone snaps. I see fear. I see anger. I see endless surrender, over generations and generations and generations. I see resignation.

I see a long, terrible silence in a lightless dream.

那美國女人呢?看到她們的臉, 會想到什麼東西?

I see swaying maples. I see hazel in her irises, and hair the color of warm earth, and gentle, soft skin. I see memories of Saturday morning cartoons, of the prick of rocks and shells in the sand along a hot July beach, of the sweet tang of varnished libraries and ancient drywall. I see hands sticky with toast crumbs. I see the coppery sting of combination locks and patent-aluminum lockers, and the grassy bite of wild grapes, and the one spot on the fingerboard of an old steel-string acoustic guitar where your finger sticks to the grain.

I see a quiet moment in a convenience store parking lot, engine thrumming, stars out--a pebble of oranges and cream snow, wet on a plastic straw. I see a long, quilted scarf flapping against the bite of an ice-bright October morning. I see Robert Frost branches spidering upwards into an Annie Dillard sky. I see a single autumn leaf, woody and defiant, green with life.
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Jun. 16th, 2011 @ 07:27 pm in which kevin waxes zarathustran
Current Mood: nietzsche
Tags: ,
In the month following the end of my last contract I've done a lot of recentering. Specifically, I've been trying to rediscover what it is I love about video games so much that I'll gladly work an engineer's hours in an artist's living conditions just for another shot at doing it for a living.

When you're bogged down in interface nitpicking and deadlines and cost-benefit compromises and project management issues, while under constant pressure to come up with a brilliant design on the spot, it's easy to find yourself thinking of games as nothing more than the sum of their parts. You don't see the rapture you felt when you first discovered the zen loop in Pac-Man, or the giddy look-at-me-now thrill of running World 4-1 of Super Mario Bros. in a dead sprint. You see messaging issues in the color of the "HI-SCORE" text. You see meters, gauges, ratios between player resource expenditure and strategic gain. You see points where the scaling risk-reward mechanics from Galaxian can intersect with the scaling risk-reward mechanics of unit specialization in Starcraft. You see pipes. Lego pieces. Playmobils. Prefabricated pieces to be combined, smoothed out, streamlined, made efficient, according to well-understood rules. You know vanilla tastes great and why it tastes great; you know chocolate tastes great and why it tastes great. Your job is to make a better chocolate, a better vanilla, and find new ways to make them swirl.

If you get to this point, the magic is gone. The process of game design has ceased to be a creative endeavor and has become a mere feat of engineering. When you catch yourself building games like this--and I'm sure even the best among us do--you're not making games anymore. You're just making software. You're architecting your game the same way you're building a web platform. And of course no one cares if the newest version of a web platform is exactly like the one that came before it, except easier to use and with some interesting new features--in fact, users prefer it that way. But you know what? Web platforms don't require novelty. They generally aren't designed to be fun.

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May. 29th, 2011 @ 04:36 am in which kevin gets over being fired
Current Music: http://homestuck.bandcamp.com/track/gamebro-original-1990-mix
(Written on a long Amtrak ride to Oberlin on Thursday, not long after the previous entry. Note effects of sleep deprivation.)

So, what happened next? Less than you might expect, actually. For once, there was no avalanche to follow the mudslide, no downward spiral into depression. I'd started this whole journey into madness from nothing--isolated from all my close friends; stuck in a conscience-eroding, dead-end job; unable to do as much as smile at a woman lest she respond with utter revulsion. But, curiously, the more frothing-at-the-mouth insane I got, the better things got for me, and the less sense my "nerd with nothing to lose" schtick made. You'd think people would look down on someone with a Beautiful Mind-like obsession with modern civilization's most frivolous craft--I mean, what other trade makes all other industry less productive?--but if there's one thing America respects, it's a lunatic with a dream.

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