All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Thursday 31 January 2013

Computer Games are the Problem?

So, thanks to California Senator Leland Yee, that age old question has come around again; are computer games the reason that people go out and kill each other?

First of all; no, people have been going out and killing each other long before computer games.
Secondly; the questions wrong. Computer games as a whole aren't being considered, the people pointing fingers are pointing at a specific type of game and lumping them all in, however I'm yet to see a mass murder with Tetris-style blocks so I don't think we can blame everything. What the finger pointers mean is 'violent computer games.' The question they mean is 'Do violent computer games create violence?'

However even the answer to that more accurate question is an easy 'No'. I don't go out killing people, I don't think about going out and killing people. I don't harbour secret needs to cause pain (though I guess you couldn't trust my word as it'd be a 'secret' need).

People don't play games to think up new things to do outside. They don't play Mario and decide to be a plumber, they don't play mortal combat and have fights to the death. People play games to avoid the outdoors and to work out frustration. Trust me, if you take away all the shooting games the number of school and office shootings would rise. All those people who get furious all day then go home and work out their pent up frustration on the Computer Generated enemy graphics without causing any real harm to people wouldn't just stop being frustrated and angry.

I will accept that people under eighteen are angrier since they've started playing call of duty and manhunt, but that isn't the fault of the computer game or the developers of the publishers, that's the fault of the parents for buying them a game clearly marked as inappropriate to under 18s, or the retailer for selling them a game for over 18s or in the case of the US, the Supreme court for (as I learned recently and I may have been misinformed) ruling that stores can't be fined for selling under 18 year olds 18 certificate games.
The first two are problems we have in England but the third is not. If a store in England sells an 18 cert game to a minor they can be heavily fined and shut down, which is how it should be. The certificates are there for a reason, of course an under 18 is going to want it, but they shouldn't be given the choice of whether or not to abide by the ruling. They have a biased opinion.

Regardless of all of that the fact remains; computer games, like any form of business driven art is subject to people's demand. If people didn't want hard-core shooters with blood and death and killing then there wouldn't be any.
The fact is that the entertainment industry sees a culture that raises guns up to be praised and to be proud of and they work with that. A lot of the time the people who are complaining about the violent games are the same people propping up the gun culture, causing the violent games to be created.

It is also worth noting that according to Wikipedia, of the top ten bestselling computer game franchises of all time seven are non-violent (including the top five) and of the three violent franchises one is fantasy and non-graphically violent.

It seems to me that if people want violent games to stop then they should stop asking for violent games. If they want gun games to stop they should stop loving guns so much.
If they want someone to blame for shootings then maybe they should look at the killers, their mental disorders and their lack of proper mental care because someone with a mental disorder doesn't need a violent computer game to commit atrocities, they will get the idea from anywhere; music, TV, film, the Bible...

But that's just my opinion.

- James

Monday 28 January 2013


So about 6 years ago I wrote a monologue that got a lot of people worried about me, thinking I was either crazy or dangerous... to myself and others. Really thoguht it was just a piece of fiction. I recently re-read it and I figured that I'd post it on here. It was intended as a 1000 word story for a competition but I never sent it in.

Anyway, here it is;

Is it supposed to hurt? Is it supposed to sting? Is it supposed to mean more, should I feel… anything?
I sit awake with a knife in my hand, playing with my feelings, trying to discern some meaning behind them. My heart was broken tonight. Or… It should have been. The alarm clock across the room ticks ever closer to one a.m. and I… my mind, moves ever further back to when you said it. “This isn’t working.” You said it calmly, kindly. You sat me down, chilled me out and broke it as gently as possible.
But it didn’t break. My heart didn’t skip a beat. My breath didn’t stop for an instant. I didn’t cry. I didn’t sweat. There was no fear. There was no happiness. There was, however, nothing.
Is that normal? Is it right? Probably not. Am I normal? Am I all right? Probably not. Liquid trickles down my arm and blood rains from the knife. The carpet will need to be replaced. Those stains will never come out. Someone else will have to do it though. I have no reason to… not where I’m going. The late London night rings out with police sirens, they’re close by, but they don’t mean a thing. It’s just odd that I noticed them.
I can still see your face. When you realised what my reaction would be. I’d say it was funny, but… I didn’t find it humorous. I’d say it was sad, but… I didn’t find it heart wrenching. You were scared, more for yourself than for me. You were selfish. You put me here. Everyone will think it. Everyone will know it. You forced my hand and made me resort to this. Where I’m going nobody cares. Where I’m going I won’t be alone… The clock chimes once to tell the room that another hour had passed. The clock is as arrogant as you. The clock thinks I care.
I run the flat side of the knife over my forehead, smearing blood across my brow. Another thought comes to mind. Why did you break it off? This doesn’t bother me either… if it had I would have asked before I made you leave. Was I too cold? Was I unfeeling? Uncaring? Did I do something wrong? Did I hurt you some how?  Were you seeing someone else? Someone else… should that have hurt me? Should that thought have made me feel worse? I was told once that the feeling you get when the one you love is caught cheating on you is like being stabbed in the heart with a corkscrew while simultaneously having your limbs put on ice. Admittedly I have never had a corkscrew to the heart… but unless it feels like a mild itch, on your left butt cheek I don’t think I’m feeling that one. As for my arms going cold and numb… I’ll chalk my inability to comprehend that one to me sitting next to a radiator.
A loud knocking in the other room brings my mind away from you, and none too soon. I know it’s the front door. I don’t even move. I already know who it is. They can let themselves in.
Why don’t I move? Because of you? Because of what I look like? Do I not want them to see me like this? Maybe you’ve done this to me. Maybe I did it to myself. It doesn’t matter. All reason goes out the window in this situation. I don’t move because I no longer care. That’s what you did. Although… that implies that I cared before those words. Did I care before those words? I don’t remember. Perhaps you did break me.
Perhaps this is what it means to have your heart broken. I say I loved you. Could I have loved you? Could I have cared for you if I had no care. If I had no feelings. If I… Could I love you if I could not love?
But does that mean that I had feelings before tonight? Or does it mean that I feigned my care? Does it mean that I loved you or does it mean that I believed I wanted to?
Do I believe now that it matters? Or do I wonder out of boredom… I wait here. I wait here for something, some sign. I wait for the banging to stop. Are they coming in or do they need an invitation?
It doesn’t matter… so much doesn’t matter. Not now. After tonight I… That doesn’t matter either does it? Not to me. Not to you. I wonder if what happens after tonight matters to anyone. Again I don’t care it’s just a passing wonder but… The flashing red and blue that fills the room of my one bedroom flat begins to hurt my eyes, the sirens hurt my ears. I wonder, for a moment, what their doing here, why the police are banging on my door, but then I look down at you. The knife in my hand glints in the light, and I remember your blood on my forehead. Your blood trickling down my arm. Your blood staining my knife and my carpet. Your blood seeping out of the open wound on your neck.
They’re here because of you. They’re here because of what you drove me towards. Their here because I killed you… and I still can’t bring myself to care… to feel…

I sit awake with a knife in my hand and my dead ex-girlfriend at my feet, playing with my feelings, trying to discern some meaning behind my lack of emotion as the police pound on my door.
I sit here and do this, not because I am in shock. Not because I want to… but… I sit here and do this because if I don’t do this, then you’ll get away with what you did. You’ll get away with forcing my hand… you murdered yourself… and everyone will know.
I’ll make sure of it.

As I said, it was purely fiction. It's nowhere near as good as I thought it was when I wrote it, but nothing is. I had originally intended to make it part 1 of a series entitled 'the seven sins' but it was a lot harder to write interesting monologues about Lust, Gluttony, Pride, Envy, Greed and Sloth, (Sloth and Gluttony especially).
Hope you 'enjoyed' that.

- James

Friday 25 January 2013

New Years Resolution Five Part one of twelve

So the podcast isn't ready. it's still coming but editing needs doing and I'm not good at it so it's taking longer than I'd like or longer than you'd like. We both know you're sitting there crying now you know that you don't get to hear my voice. You know it.

Instead I'm going to tell you how I'm doing with my fifth new years resolution, 'Learn something new every month.'. I'll be updating you all on how I'm doing with this (so that you can judge weather or not I need to pay charity) about this time every month with what I learned this month and what I'm going to be learning next month.

This month I decided to put a single piece of my survival gear to use and learn to tie knots. seems like a simple thing and an unnecessary thing, but it's actually goign to be useful with my camping/hiking and it's actually relatively difficult to do. At leat some of it is.
I used an app on my iPhone to learn how to tie a bunch of different knots. The app is (conveniently) called 'Knots'.
So I learned some useful knots... please don't ask what they're useful for cos... I... I really don't know.
I'm sure I'll figure it out.

So, Evidence;
Figure 8 Knot

Carrick Bend

Reef Knot

Clinch Knot

Bowline Knot

Prusik Knot

Common Whipping

So there's that.
Next month I intend to learn lock-picking. If that changes I will re-blog.

- James

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Guns for everyone?

Ok, so there’s a big gun debate going on in America right now. I'm not entirely sure what the sides are, but I know the two opinions. One side wants to ban guns (or at least constrict the rights of gun ownership) while the other side wants more guns.

Personally I'm happy with my country and its policy of no firearms; however the things that work in one place won’t necessarily work in another. In this case especially I don't think instantly banning all firearms is a viable method for solving the America gun crime problem.

However there are some things that I don't understand. The chief of which is; why is it legal to own automatic weapons, shot guns, sniper rifles and in some cases grenade launcher attachments? In what legal scenario are any of those going to come in useful? Seriously.

Also why is it legal to own more than three guns per member of a household? I've seen gun advocates on the news talking about how they have their guns to protect their family, some even talking about owning fifty guns, but surely at some point they are more of a hindrance than help. There is no situation I can think of that you would require fifty guns to protect your family, unless you plan to hand them to the enemy and run while they're weighed down.

Why do people have such a problem with background checks on guns? I mean surely the background check isn't that big an inconvenience to make sure that crazy people and murderers don't get one legally. Isn't the fact that someone can't wait three says (or whatever it is) for their background check to come through a good indicator that he or she shouldn't have a gun? What do they have to do right now that requires a gun?

But as I say, banning guns isn't the answer. It worked in England because we didn't have guns everywhere. Taking away our guns was like taking away our missile launchers, it only hurt a few people and the criminal element weren't so over abundant with the weapons that they were now clear to run rampant.
America, however has too many guns already. You take away all the guns from the nice people and all the bad people will overrun the country. America's guns in the hands of honest, good people is effectively their nuclear deterrent against their own criminal element. Take that away and there’s nothing stopping them. The police are such a small fraction of the country that there is no way they could stop it.

I personally don't know how gun control in America can be fixed, but when a mentally unstable person takes the legally obtained guns from his mother's shelves and kills twenty children and six teachers at an elementary school you can't deny that something is definitely broken.

- James

Monday 21 January 2013

Twenty-Six Of Fifty-Two

Television Shows

Firefly (and Serenity)

Oh Firefly, how I miss you :(
Firefly was one of those Television shows that never made it, never went anywhere and so nobody really saw. It became a cult hit after it came out on DVD and the cult success allowed them to create a movie, Serenity.
There has been much speculation as to why the show didn't do well on tv, but what most people take away is that the episodes were shown out of order and didn't make sense. Also, as with Studio sixty, it was poorly advertised and in an odd time slot.

Firefly is a mix of sci-fi and western. The story of a group of outlaws on a mid-sized cargo vessel trying to keep their ship going and keep from being arrested. The crew of the Serenity (the firefly class space ship they fly around in) all have their own personal stories that play out a little in the show and culminate in the movie.

Malcolm Reynolds is the morally ambiguous, sarcastic and all round hilarious captain of the Serenity. The show starts off showing Mal in the middle of a warzone during a future era version of the American Civil war. The Alliance want control of the whole system, but the Independents don't want to be interfered with. The viewer’s quickly discover that the Independents (or Brown Coats) lost the war and now the Alliance control the system. Mal is a complex character with strong morals in some ways but equally non-existent ones when it comes to Crime.

Simon and River Tam are probably the next most notable characters on the ship, of rich Origins the pair seem out of place, but they are still accepted by most. River is a child prodigy who was kidnapped by the alliance and experimented on. Simon is her gifted surgeon brother who gave up everything to help River escape from the alliance.
River is two parts crazy and 1 part awesome. While most of the time you'd have trouble distinguishing her CAT scans from a toddlers drawing she does have rare moments of awesome (such as when she and one of the other characters got caught in gun fire in one of the episodes and she used math to calculate where to shoot without looking, killing them all).

The stories range from train heists to smuggling. From crashing parties for work from highly respected gentlemen to defending lowly whore houses from supposedly noblemen who think they own the world.

Whether or not you like sci-fi or westerns it's well worth a watch.
Probably more so if you like sci-fi and westerns though.

Is-Video-Bombing-A-Thing? Nathan-Fillion-Being-Funny.
- James

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Twenty-Five of Fifty-Two


Chameleon Circuit

Music, weird right? Who knew there could be geeky music out there? Well, I guess anyone with two working brain cells could have guessed, but a band specifically devoted to Doctor who? Yes ok, I'm pretty late to this particular party but come on, how could they not make it onto this list?

Chameleon Circuit, incase you couldnt guess from the previous paragraph, are a band that exclusively plays songs about Doctor Who. The Band consists ofyoutube musicians Alex Day, Charlie McDonnell, Ed Blann, Liam Dryden and Michael Aranda (formerly Chris Beattie was a member but left in 2009).

Their music ranges in styles, theres some poppy stuff, some rocky stuff and some more original stuff in there. The music is entirely centred around the British show 'Doctor Who', however the specific subject varies often, sometimes they write songs about season finales, sometimes about specific aspects of the show (i.e. the Tardis has it's own song entitled 'Type 40') they even have a song about the history of Gallifrey.

The music is fun, energetic, well writen (having no knowledge of music I admit that might be a lie, but I like it and so do far too many teenage girls who probably don't watch doctor who so I think it's a safe bet that they aren't all bad... or so I hope.).

I recomend giving them a listen if your a doctor who fan or not. And if your not I recomend becoming one.

- James
P.S. A song I love that never made it into their albulm

Monday 14 January 2013

Happy new year

Well, this is my first post of the new year. First real post of the new year I mean. there were a couple of reviewy posts, but they don't really count.
So, in light of that I wish you all a happy new year.

Some of you, those who follow my twitter, will know that I've opted to take on a list of new years resolutions instead of the standard one.
  1.  Finish my three main books/stories (The Longest Cycle trilogy, Dark Prince and A change in the Wind)
  2. Get below 13st (189lbs) - weight loss, probably the most common resolution of them all.
  3. I will not make up any excuse not to go out.
  4. Blog at least three times a week (starting today)
  5. Learn something new every month.
Five resolutions, one year, I intend to complete them all and every time I fail one i will put some money aside for charity.

With the new year comes a time of reflection, a time to think back on your life and think about what you've achieved, what you could have achieved and what you should have achieved.
I think in the past year I started sending out my book too early. For one thing I sent it out before I knew that it was a trilogy, for another I sent it out after the second draft. I don't know if I'm finished yet, but if the responses I've got back about the first book at anything to go by; I'm not there yet.
I truly believe that I will one day get published, but in order to do so I need to be more patient.

When I finish re-writing the final book I will go back to the first and, no doubt, hate every word of it. I'll re-write parts and make them better and once again I'll send it out to try and get published, If I fail again I will go back and make them better. I believe that this is a good story that should be told, whether I do or not is down to me, my persistence and my ability to get back up off the mat.

I hope all of you have a perfectly wonderful new year and I will talk to you soon.


- James

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Twenty-Four of Fifty-Two


Kingdom Hearts I & II

Disney and Square Enix (Square Soft as it was then known) 'Kingdom Hearts' is probably my favourite game series of all time. Don't get me wrong; I can't stand chain of memories, I think the DS was the wrong device for 358/2, and I haven’t played birth by sleep, 3D: Dream Drop Distance or Coded (hadn't even heard of that one when I started this of 52). But Kingdom Hearts One, Kingdom hearts two and hopefully Kingdom Hearts 3 when it eventually (if ever) comes out were amazing, and unlike anything I'd played before.

If I regret anything in my life, it's posting my copies to myself when I moved from Scotland back to London. the package was stolen and I've been unable to play them since. It wasn't my fault, but I can't help but feel that if I'd brought them in my suitcase (there was room!) I would still have them. If not for that fateful event they would remain in my collection of old games I can never sell (a collection that includes; Star Wars: Republic commando [xbox], both Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic games [xbox], Skies of Arcadia [Game Cube], Tales of Symphonia [Game Cube] and Ultimate Spiderman [Game Cube]).

The game follows Sora, a young boy from a small island as he is thrown into a war between forces he didn't even know existed while he looks for his friends Riku and Kairi. He is joined by Donald Duck and Goofy who are searching for their king Mickey Mouse and a cast of Disney characters to help in their journey.
 Gifted with the mighty Keyblade, Sora must battle the heartless through world after world to find his friends and stop the leader of the Heartless, Ansem.
As the game continues it shows that his friend Riku has turned to the side of the Heartless. The game's story is an emotional rollercoaster as you try to help Riku, save Kairi and stop Ansem and the heartless from snuffing out the universe.

Great game, but they've taken too long re-releasing it and releasing the sequel.

- James

P.S. Can't-mention-Squares-Awesome-Cut-Scenes-Without-This-(released-in-1999)

P.P.S. If anyone gets the urge to buy me the games again I wouldn't say no :P