Monday, December 1, 2014

The Ten Best Places for a Woman to get a Tattoo

1. Wherever the fuck she wants.
2. Anywhere she feels like.
3. Whatever place she thinks is appropriate.
4. See #1.
5. The spot she thinks would be good for her tattoo.
6. Any place she likes.
7. Anywhere.
8. See #4.
9. Wherever.
10. Wherever the fuck she wants.

Inspired by an article that I won't link to because page views but you can probably guess what it said.

tl;dr Wherever the fuck she wants.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sexy Ladies Aren't the Problem

So Gamergate. That's a thing that's happening right now. It compels me to blog. Not about Gamergate, actually, because I'm not sure what I have to say that hasn't already been said by people better at writing than me. What I am actually going to blog about are some of the awful logical fallacies that I see popping up on Twitter and elsewhere.

I fear I didn't have the foresight to save links to them, but I saw one post that accused Anita Sarkeesian of being a hypocrite because she wore makeup during a talk once. Another post accused people who object to sexist representations of female characters in games of being "offended by the human body." (Y'know, because all female characters in games are accurate portrayals of the human body.)

Anyway. So the problem with that is that that's not the problem. (At least from my perspective. I guess I can't speak for the rest of the internet gang.) The problem is not that sexualized female characters exist everywhere, it's that other kinds of female characters don't. I don't see anything inherently wrong with games like Lollipop Chainsaw existing, but it would be nice to see, y'know, other types of female characters too. And there are some, certainly, but not nearly as many as their male counterparts.

Let's look at Twisted Metal 2, for example. And older game, admittedly, and one I'm rather fond of, but one that provides a fairly textbook example of the problem with the representation of female characters in video games.

Of the 16 playable characters (if we count the hidden boss characters), 13 are male. We have a few sexy male characters, sure, but we also have: a walking skeleton, a grizzled war veteran, a hobo, two psycho clowns, a creepy witchdoctor, a tortured guy trapped in massive wheels, and a fiery demon.

The female characters are: a sexy copy, a sexy racer and a sexy teenager.

So yeah. You can see why one might consider the gender balance a little lopsided. That's just one game, but it's not that hard to find other examples.

tl;dr the problem isn't that there are sexy female characters, the problem is that there aren't (m)any others

Monday, October 6, 2014

Words with Annoying People

Because I am a nerd (and stuff), I am sometimes fascinated with etymology. How did language evolve? Why do we talk the way we do? Individual words can be interesting, but even more fascinating are all the memetic idioms and catchphrases that permeate colloquial speech. How might they sound to an outsider who heard us constantly talking about how we must keep on truckin' and we might sink or swim because somebody's got a case of the Mondays and we don't want to crash and burn. Some of our phrases are kind of clever. Some are pretty weird. Others annoy the hell out of me. For no reason other than therapeutic venting, I have decided to compile a brief list of the latter here.

 "May or may not." This one is interesting for managing to be so utterly useless. It may be. Or it may not. When talking about a binary possibility, there is literally no other option, so the phrase taken literally managed to convey absolutely no information. "But Erik," you might say, "it's not meant to be taken literally." Yes, I realize it really means "this might be true but I don't know for sure" so it's more a way of admitting the speaker's uncertainty than communicating information, but that means that "I'm not sure" is a much more appropriate alternative. Also it's silly.

"Friends with benefits." Admittedly, I'm guilty of using this one often as there isn't really another option that expresses the same idea. "Fuck buddies" implies an emphasis on the physical with no friendship to go with it, and "friends who happen to sleep together" is a little clunky. What bothers me about it is the "with benefits" part, implying that you only benefit from a friendship if you're sleeping with them. All friendships are friendships with benefits. Sometimes the benefit is having someone to play video games with. Sometimes it's having someone to drink with at the bar. Sometimes it's sex.

"Viral." (In the context of social media sharing.) I actually used to like this one. "Viral" is a good way to describe the phenomenon of the people of the internet sharing a really good (or really weird video, image or story. The reason it annoys me now is the overuse. It has become the "epic" of today. People use it to refer to any mildly interesting or catchy thing, rather than things that truly spread across the internet like an unstoppable infection. Even worse are when people demand that we "make this go viral."

"Like and share if" Fuck you.

"Can't you just," mostly uttered at the workplace by people who have no understand of what goes into other people's jobs. I'm sure other disciplines have similar complaints, but for me as a software engineer this takes the form of people who have no understanding of technology (but think they are digital design experts cuz they made a Geocities page once) and think that things are as easy to code as they are to say. "Can't you just completely revamp the entire application to accommodate this one little feature that was never in the original scope and won't appeal to our users? Why are you being so difficult about this?" Or something.

tl;dr Sometimes people say things that annoy me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I Don't Care

Isn't that song so catchy? I've been hearing it a lot lately, and can't get it out of my head. Admittedly, that's not entirely unpleasant. Anyway, I've found that meaning of the song resonates with me for reasons. I offer you my alternative advertising lyrics:

I got this feeling in a summer day in a meeting
I crashed the app on my iPad I watched I let it fail
I put your shit in a job bag and shoved it down the stairs
I crashed the app on my iPad.

I don't care, I love it
I don't care

I am an engineer, you've got a BFA.
You hate the text spacing, am I supposed to care?
You're so damn hard to please, we gotta ship this app
Mark STET on every change, I'm sick of all your crap

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This blog does not pass the Bechdel Test

I heard some talk on the Facebooks lately about Swedish theaters "grading" movies on their representations of gender equality using the Bechdel Test. I don't know if that's true or not and I'm too lazy to look it up but that's ancillary here since that news was merely the inspiration for this post, not the subject.

I also want to say before I go further that I totally understand the point of the Bechdel Test. I even wrote a blog post a few eternities back applying it to games. Female characters in entertainment media are often defined primarily by their relationships with male characters, which the test hopefully draws awareness to. That said, while it's not bad, it's also not a complete metric for gender equality. Like at all. It even says that right at the top of Edit: Ok I double checked and it's not exactly right at the top but it's still there so closenough.jpg

Because I am apparently pretending to be a screenwriter now, let's imagine two hypothetical movie pitches I just made up:

One features a woman who is (ship/plane/spaceboat)wrecked and has to survive all on her own using her own strength, wits and tenacious will to survive. She never talks to anyone though, so this movie fails the Bechdel Test.

The second is a movie rife with misogynistic themes about how women are dumb and overly emotional and should always try to look sexy and never talk back to men and be good little girlfriends and wives, but at point two girls talk about how much they love buying shoes. So it passes.

Admittedly, those are sort of extreme examples but WHATEVER. The point is, a movie passing the Bechdel Test does not mean it is a good movie filled with cheerful gender equality. This subject is a liiiiiiittle bit more complicated than that. Though I'm not saying we should stop using it, either. I'm also saying this candy bar I'm eating right now is delicious. I know that's kind of a non sequitur but I really thought you should know.

tl;dr The Bechdel Test is nice but it should not be the only metric for gender equality in media.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why I didn't return your call

I've seen lots of guides for job applicants on how to talk to recruiters floating around the internet, but what I don't see as often are "Tips on how to talk to job candidates." I suppose that's not as required, since the recruiter is typically the one with more leverage in the arrangement and doesn't really have to worry as much about saying the wrong thing and putting someone off. Indeed, when I was unemployed right out of college, if a recruiter called me and said "Scrub my floors with a toothbrush every day for a week and maaaaaaaybe you'll get an interview" I'd probably have given it some thought.

Now that I have a job, though, things are a bit different. I'm not saying I'm planning to stay at my current place forever, but I have a baseline now. I can afford to be picky. Another side effect of having a job is that where I used to go weeks at a time without hearing anything back about applications, now I get unsolicited phone calls and LinkedIn messages from recruiters almost weekly. I've noticed, uh, a few trends. Not that I expect any recruiters to read this, but either way, following is a list of reasons I don't always jump at calling back.

Lack of any useful information about the job. I realize they are bound to respect the client's confidentiality up to a point, but you can give me more than "there's a position at this company," surely. Don't make me pry to figure out the things you know I want to know: What is the salary range? What are the benefits? As I said, in the olden days I'd have jumped for anything, but now I need something that at least matches my current benefits and offers a salary increase sufficient to justify the trouble of moving to an unfamiliar environment. I want to know right up front that I'm not wasting my time.

Awkward pretenses. This might sound harsh but: You're not my friend. I don't know you. I keep getting calls from this one guy to the effect of "Hey man, how's it going? I just thought I'd call and check up on ya, see if you were doin' ok." Bullshit. Stop acting like we're buddies. We both know all I want is a good career and all you want is your commission, so let's not pretend. I got a message a while ago asking me if I wanted to grab a cup of coffee to chat and get to know each other. That's the kind of message people should be sending to each other on OKCupid, not LinkedIn.

Calling at work. I don't mean during working hours. Most recruiting companies are 9-5, I get that and it's cool. What is not cool is calling someone at their direct extension on their current employer's line. Like, it's so remarkably unprofessional that I can't believe people actually do it yet they do.

Meaningless buzzwords. Seriously, I'm not fooled by the fluff. When you say "energetic new company with plenty of potential for growth!" I hear "unproven startup that probably has long hours and low job security that doesn't actually offer anything I don't already have." MckaylaMaroneyFace.jpg

So yeah. That. Hopefully I didn't burn any bridges and screw myself out of a 6 figure position because I drove off the wrong recruiter. Wooooops.

tl;dr I get tons of messages from recruiters now but they're all awkward and unimpressive.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This does not bode well

Huh. I almost failed BEDA 2 days in. Woops. Well, the post I had planned to write today is going to be really long so I don't want to start it now since it's late o'clock, and I already dedicated a post to lamenting how miserably I'm going to fail at BEDA, so I guess I will resort to doing what I explicitly said I was not going to do:

I just got Dragon's Dogma today and it is a hella novel concept. The bulk of the game is a fairly standard swords/bows/spells fantasy adventure RPG, but its novelty comes from the awesome "pawn" mechanic. So you make your character, but a bit into the game you also make a second character, your pawn. You control your character directly but your pawn is always AI controlled. The AI seems pretty solid but you can help it along with simple commands. At any time you can hire two additional pawns. This is the cool part: those aren't just random NPCs. When you hire other pawns, you are hiring the primary pawns of other players, and other players can hire your pawn. If your pawn gets taken out adventuring, they will gain experience, gain knowledge of quests/enemies/areas that they can use when back with you, and even collect items to give to you when they return. The game is primarily single player but the pawn hiring adds an interesting pseudo-multiplayer community flavor (kind of like what Dark Souls had with tips).

I recommend giving it a shot. And if you play it on XBox 360, look me up. Maybe we can level each others pawns sometime. =p

tl;dr I'm bad at BEDA and Dragon's Dogma is awesome.