All this news about WikiLeaks has me fairly torn. Read about my thoughts here: http://www.dailytoreador.com/opinion/article_6c20208a-fc2c-11df-9fd4-00127992bc8b.html
Archives For November 2010
Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
All of this recent news about WikiLeaks has me feeling pretty torn.
On one hand, I greatly applaud the fact that citizens are doing their part to keep our nation in check. By leaking a multitude of government documents, it could be (and has been) argued that WikiLeaks is doing a great service in helping prevent a “1984”-esque regime, where secrets reign and everything is controlled by the government. It’s good to know there are people out there who would do whatever it takes to make sure information stays with the people.
On the other hand, however, I worry that some things are far better left private. Some secrets, after all, are kept to protect people.
I’m not even talking exclusively about the U.S. soldiers that could potentially be harmed by certain pieces of intelligence falling into the wrong hands, though that’s certainly an issue we should be concerned about. I’m talking about us. You, me, our families… The regular people, as it were.
Not that I endorse most gossip, but have you ever been in a situation with a friend or family member where you want to say something about them them – maybe that they got a horrible haircut or that they’re a terrible artist – but you never tell them directly because you know the strife it would cause? Feelings would be hurt, sure, but in some cases you know things might become heated and violence may break out. It’s better for everybody around if you just keep your mouth shut, maybe only talking to a couple trusted friends about the issue.
Or say you’re in a bar and you see a rather buff and mean looking guy with a pretty hot girl on his arm, you typically keep any comments you have about either of them to yourself. You might tell your buddies that the girl is really hot, but you certainly don’t walk up to the guy or the girl and say it, lest you be pummeled.
These are the kind of things that the latest WikiLeaks leak is making public. Only the gossip is on a global scale and all the nations involved carry really big sticks. If too many people are angered, we could be looking at some pretty scary times in the future.
So if people and organizations such as WikiLeaks don’t exist, we might (but might not) put ourselves at risk of totalitarian control, where freedom dies and the common man and woman suffers greatly.
But if the likes of WikiLeaks aren’t careful and divulge the wrong information, we might (but might not) put ourselves at risk of global war that could devastate our entire planet.
It’s like we’re living in the tagline for “Alien vs. Predator.” No matter who wins, we lose.
This is why I’m torn about the issue. If I had to choose a side right now, I would say that WikiLeaks is at serious risk of going overboard (if they haven’t already) and should probably be dealt with. But I can’t deny the potential benefits of such an organization existing in the long run.
Provided, of course, that the organization itself is moral and truly has our best interests in mind.
Unfortunately, I think Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is right when she said on Monday that the latest leak is “an attack on the international community” and poses a serious risk to U.S. foreign relations. Whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has good intentions or not, there’s a very good chance that he’s doing more harm than good.
We are extremely lucky to live in a nation where we do elect those in charge of us. We have to hope that those people won’t abuse the power we’ve given them, and trust that sometimes they keep secrets for a reason.
Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
Last year’s “Assassin’s Creed II” was an amazing game, easily one of the best of the year. But when Ubisoft announced they would be bringing out a new game in the franchise a mere year later that served as a sort of side story, people – myself very much included – were worried.
When it was announced that they would be putting some sort of multiplayer in the game, people freaked out. The “Assassin’s Creed” series’ main strengths are its story and its amazing stealth and free running gameplay, neither of which was thought to be well-fit for online multiplayer. I spoke pretty openly against the idea of a multiplayer “Assassin’s Creed,” worried that Ubisoft was just trying to shoehorn features into a great franchise in order to make more money.
I’m going to just come out and say it: I was wrong on both counts. Dead wrong. “Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood” is an outstanding game deserving of your attention, and it may actually be the best game in the series yet.
I should also say that if you’re new to the series, this probably isn’t the best place to start, especially as far as the single-player is concerned. The story of “Assassin’s Creed,” while fantastic so far, is very complex. It’s full of history, conspiracy and intrigue. It’s some parts “The DaVinci Code,” some parts “Lost,” some parts “The Matrix.” While most of your time is spent as an historical assassin (the first game took place during the crusades while “ACII” and “Brotherhood” are both set in Renaissance Italy), the big picture story that you really care about revolves around a man named Desmond Miles, and it takes place in 2012.
So yeah, the story is sort of crazy. The last game ended on a massive cliffhanger, leaving gamers anxious to see what will ultimately happen in the series. It’s a journey well worth taking, but it would be very hard to jump in with this installment. At least pick up “Assassin’s Creed II,” which should be pretty affordable at this point. If you don’t, at least watch a lot of YouTube videos of both games.
If you did play “Assassin’s Creed II,” “Brotherhood” picks up literally seconds after that game ended. Despite the fact that this is not “Assassin’s Creed III,” which will almost certainly be set in an entirely new time period, the single-player experience in “Brotherhood” is absolutely top-notch. The story is fantastic, the action is better than ever, and there’s more to do.
One of the biggest new features in the single-player is the fact that Ezio is forming his own elite group of assassins, and you get to be in charge of the new recruits. After recruiting citizens to fight against the evil oppressors of Rome, you as the player can send your new assassins on missions of their own all around Europe. Alternatively, you can keep at least a few close by and call them in for backup whenever you need a little help. They earn experience points and level up for all of this stuff.
It’s a fantastic and addictive system that adds a lot to the experience.
And then there’s multiplayer. I had tremendous doubts that the developer would be able to come up with a good multiplayer mode for an “Assassin’s Creed” game, but they proved me very wrong.
One reason the multiplayer is so great is that it’s not just another “Call of Duty” clone. You won’t find yourself running around like a crazy person trying gun down other players. In fact, if you do that, you’re sure to lose.
In multiplayer, each player chooses a character to play as, like a doctor or butcher or jester. The catch is that the game world is populated entirely with exact clones of all of these character models. As such, if everyone were to stand still, it would be impossible to tell the human players from the innocent computer-controlled citizens.
Every player is given a target – another player – to hunt down, meaning you will always be after someone and someone else will always be after you. This is where the fun is. The idea of the multiplayer is to blend into the crowd so your pursuers won’t easily know where you are (if they kill an innocent civilian instead of you, they lose the contract on you and you’re safe from them), and likewise so your target doesn’t become suspicious and run away.
This leads to a lot of amazing gameplay scenarios. You might be walking along innocently, trying to tail your target in a crowded marketplace, when suddenly another assassin climbs out of a haystack and stabs you in the back. Or, you might see your target assassinate a target of his own, giving away his position, letting you chase him down in a glorious fashion.
It’s a bit slower-paced than most multiplayer games today, but that’s part of what makes it so amazing. It’s both clever and original, while still maintaining a lot of popular gameplay features from popular games (you level up and gain new abilities and weapons as you play, for example).
All in all, “Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood” is a far better experience than I originally anticipated. If you liked the last games in the series, the only possible reason for you to skip this game would be if you’re currently burned out on the formula – and if you finished “ACII” just recently, I wouldn’t blame you. If you’re new to the series, this may not be the place to start, but you should definitely find a way to get into the series and find out what you’ve been missing out on.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 with a copy of the game provided to The Daily Toreador by Ubisoft.
Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
As much as I support the celebration of the birth of Jesus, I’m beginning to think that Thanksgiving may be the holiday that America needs most right now.
This time of year, we’re almost inundated with shouts of “It’s the season of giving” as much as we are by the utter onslaught of consumerism. I’m sure it can be annoying coming from the wrong people in the wrong way, but the fact of the matter is that people shout it at us because we need it.
I’m no exception to the craziness that often hits consumers. I would be lying if I told you I haven’t already planned out what stores I’m hitting on Black Friday, and it would be foolish to pretend that I haven’t already started dropping hints on what certain loved ones could get me as gifts for the holidays.
But I’m talking about a lot more than just giving and getting of material objects. I’m not even going to tell you to go out and volunteer your time to a worthy cause this holiday season (though it wouldn’t be a bad idea). I’m talking about our attitudes as Americans, as young, educated people, even as Texas Tech students.
America strives to create leaders. This is great, except when you have a nation full of people who see themselves as leaders, you have nobody fit to be good followers. And without good followers, you have no reason for the leaders in the first place.
We’ve all been trained with that mindset – that we were meant to command, not be commanded; that we deserve to be in charge because we’re Americans, damn it.
We deserve our coffee for free because the barista didn’t put enough low fat milk in it. We deserve to go to a great bowl game because the Red Raiders are God’s chosen team. We deserve to have Tuesday classes cancelled because we need to travel back home – as if Wednesday wasn’t set aside for that already.
To put it simply, we’re all a bunch of whiny, spoiled brats.
And I’m sure it’s easy to point at a classmate or co-worker and say, “Yep, that’s them,” but it’s probably you, too. It’s certainly me from time to time, as much as I hate to admit it.
Thanksgiving is more than being thankful for family and life and material objects. It’s being thankful for anything and everything you have.
Whether you always agree with its leaders or not, you live in a pretty amazing country. As a Tech student, you go to a pretty great school. If you’re reading this right now, you have impeccable taste in columns and are holding a great newspaper.
But just as important as being thankful, we need to stop acting like we’re better than everybody else just because of the things we do have.
So you have a 4.0 GPA and are going to law school. I’m happy for you, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let you cut in front of me in the line at Target. So you’re on the football team. Fantastic, but I’m not going to worship you for it. So you want to be a DT columnist. That doesn’t … Well, OK, you actually are better than everybody else.
The point is, we have a lot of emotions, desires and thoughts that we need to keep in check, and Thanksgiving can be a great time to be reminded of that. We should think about it before we try to talk that cop out of giving us a ticket when we speed on our way back home to see our families.
Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
According to our European chums across the pond at The Guardian, there are currently people hard at work developing a small device that you can pee (or spit) on, plug into your computer or phone, and have it tell you whether or not you’re infected with a sexually transmitted disease.
Friends, we are living in the future. It’s kind of a scary future, but it’s the future nonetheless. Worried you might have herpes? There’s an app for that.
The experts behind this new technology hope that it will drastically decrease the spread of STDs among the world’s youth. This is definitely a noble goal, and one that addresses an issue that seems more pressing every day.
They are developing this private, technology-centric STD test because they feel the need to cater to today’s “technology-savvy young people,” as most STDs are found among that age group – at least in the U.K.; I don’t know about here in the U.S. This tells me that teens and young adults today are not only too embarrassed to go see a doctor when they think they might have screwed up, they also, well, screw up a lot.
Technology blog Gizmodo reports that the people behind this technology hope to make the testing chips – which are said to be about the size of a USB dongle – cost as little as a dollar, and they hope it can be widely available, from vending machines to drug stores. As the website points out, these are the same places where somebody could buy themselves a little protection and not have to worry so much about getting an STD in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not entirely against the idea of this technology. And let’s face it, with Lubbock being fairly notorious for its “Raider rash,” some of us could probably use all the help we can get. It just amazes me that we have come to methods such as this.
Sure, it’s extremely easy to point fingers at so-called conservative teaching methods and religious-influenced abstinence-only sex education in public schools. I’m sure there’s definitely some blame to be spread in that direction. However, we also have to wonder where the crap common sense went these days.
Obviously there are a lot of idiots out there that don’t keep a condom on them for “emergencies.” This isn’t a revelation for most of you, though it’s still a really bad thing. What’s crazy to me are the people who would rather have their smart phone diagnose them with a potentially life-altering disease than visit a trained physician.
Oh, I’m sure there are excuses. You hate clinics, you don’t have insurance, you’re 16 and don’t want anyone – least of all your parents – to know you slept with a girl or six … I hate to be callous, but you should have thought of that stuff before you had the unprotected sex.
The no insurance excuse is at least a little understandable to me, but still, if your phone does tell you that you’ve contracted an STD, the next thing it’s going to do is refer you to a doctor for treatment. So you’re in the same boat either way.
The only thing this technology might save some people is time, assuming your worry about having a disease was a false alarm.
And while I’m sure there are plenty of noble people out there who would stop having so much sex – or at least start being a lot more careful – when they find out they have an STD, I have to imagine there are still plenty of people that wouldn’t care enough to change their lifestyle, which helps absolutely nobody.
Now, I don’t think this mobile STD tester is necessarily a bad idea, and the cause is certainly a good one. However, this really feels like a potentially flawed attempt to treat a symptom rather than the disease – or even the rest of the symptoms.
Proper sex education could be a step in the right direction, yes. Higher condom availability could be another. And raising STD awareness definitely needs to happen. And maybe I’m wrong about this phone test and it will be a tremendous help – I wouldn’t mind if I am.
But I wish we could develop an app that would inject some common sense and maturity in most of today’s young adults. That would solve a lot more than just the spread of STDs.
New column, in which I beg young adults and parents to mature a little – or a lot, depending on how immature they currently are.
Peele: When you become an adult, grow up – The Daily Toreador: Opinion http://bit.ly/cwDEch
Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
While browsing my favorite video game blog, Kotaku, I came across the headline, “Playing with your children can save their mental health.”
My inner reaction to that was something along the lines of, “Well, no duh.”
The story was made relevant to gamers in the sense that if you let a game console “babysit” your child, rather than spending time with them yourself, you put the child at a much higher risk of developing a severe personality disorder. Obviously this applies to more than just video games, but it’s still a good example to make.
This news came to me shortly after reading a column that beloved children’s horror author R.L. Stine wrote for The New York Times shortly before Halloween titled “The scariest sight on Halloween? Grown-ups.”
Stine lamented over the fact that so much emphasis on the holiday today is being placed on adult parties, adult costumes and adult issues.
Whatever happened to Halloween being an event for children to dress up and get candy, rather than for adults to wear less clothing than ever in an attempt to get laid?
It strikes me that, more and more, adults are refusing to grow up – or maybe a better word would be “mature.”
Granted, I’m not necessarily the best person to talking about growing up and being an adult. At the moment, I make money playing video games as a freelance critic, and I aspire to write young adult fantasy novels at some point in the future. I hope to make a living on not really growing up at all, in that sense.
However, while I entirely support keeping your inner child and letting loose every now and then, you also need to accept the responsibilities that come with age. You cannot expect other adults or the government to take care of your responsibilities for you.
But that’s exactly what I see so many parents doing. Maybe it’s a simple matter of a parent not paying attention to the movies their child is watching or the games they’re playing. Maybe it’s parents not talking to their teenagers about sex and instead letting the schools do that bit of dirty work. Maybe it’s parents who pay so little attention to their child that they don’t realize they’re struggling in school, be it with academics or bullies or something else.
All of these can have a huge impact on a child, teenager, or even 20-something year old college student.
I’m 22. Over the weekend, I got a little upset with my mom over the phone about something extremely stupid. I texted her afterward to apologize, saying “Sorry, I’ve been weirdly emotional today.” Being the overprotective mother that she is, she immediately called me to make sure I was OK and to see if I needed to talk about anything.
I expected that from my mom, but what really got me was the next day, when my dad called to ask the same questions. He’s a great dad, but he’s not usually big on stuff like emotions, usually leaving that stuff to my mother. I was perfectly fine, but the mere fact that my father cared was nice to know.
Now, I don’t mean to brag or anything by saying that. I definitely don’t want to say, “It’s so nice to have good parents. A lot of you are probably screwed up because you aren’t lucky like me.” Far from it. I know there are plenty of families that are broken or at the very least flawed (well, all are flawed in at least some small way), and that sucks.
I say what I’m saying so that, if you’re in the shoes of someone with a bad parent or two, you should try to do a better job with your children than your parents did with you.
As I near the end of my college career, several friends of mine have gotten married. A couple of them have even had a child or have one on the way. I myself am engaged. Are we doing these things at too young an age? You could make that argument, sure. But regardless, it’s happening.
Are these young parents going to leave their son or daughter in front of the TV while they keep to themselves all day? Are they going to hire a babysitter every night so they can go out clubbing? Sure, a ton of families these days involve both the mother and father working full-time, but that shouldn’t be an excuse.
This shouldn’t just apply to those of you who have kids now or will in the near future, either. Whether or not you’ve spawned some offspring, you’re an adult, or at least very close to it. Please do society a favor and act like it once in awhile.