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Today the spaceship MMO EVE Online, colloquially known as Spreadsheets in Space, experienced its largest battle to date, with more than four thousand individual players duking it out to the bitter end. The players of EVE Online, each controlling their own spaceship loaded with weapons or utility modules, are no strangers to fights or fleet actions, but battles on this scale are rare and usually turn into historical events that separate the newbies from the veterans. A space rumble this big isn’t all action, explosions, and heroic bravery as many sci-fi films would lead you to believe, and the fighting here looks more like a swarm of insects or a jam-packed disco dance floor (complete with lasers) than a World War II dogfight or naval engagement.
What makes this fight special and EVE Online distinct from other MMOs is the scale of these completely player-driven engagements. World of Warcraft is the largest MMO to date, with some 11 million subscribers at its height, but even then those players were divided over a bunch of different servers; parallel but completely separate versions of the same world, each with around 3-4 thousand players. EVE has the entirety of its subscriber base, about five hundred thousand people, on a single server, with everyone playing in the same world. This allows for larger groupings of players and greater bouts of tension between them, resulting in massive battles like what we’ve seen today.
This clash between two massive groupings of players is neat to read and look at without context, but understanding why this battle is occurring and the factors at play can tell us a lot about the game itself. It’s safe to say that while EVE has a steep learning curve and requires a massive time investment to really get going, it is one of the deepest and certainly the most dynamic MMOs out there now.
Compiled here is a quick primer on many of the most significant pieces of the surveillance revelations and debate. It should answer most questions on the specifics or at the very least give one a jumping off point in their own research. I will attempt to add onto and modify this as the changes come, so check back for future updates when/if new information rolls around. For now, you can check out ProPublica’s FAQ on the NSA’s Surveillance Programs. And also be sure to check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s timeline of NSA Domestic Spying, which reveals how persistent and common the issues we’re running into now really are.
Updated 2/11/2015: Added entries for EONBLUE,
Pacific Rim is the cinema equivalent of two action figures being bashed together in mock combat, the kid at play here being director Guillermo Del Toro. There’s very little nuance or subtext, just simply the boy-ish craving to see big things hit each other in glorious modern day CGI. And in that respect the movie delivers, with an attention to detail and well planned framing and scenery that is a feast for the senses. It’s a love letter to entire genres of animation and film that have been cultural watermarks for Asian countries but which never saw as much love from their American counter-parts. However, like a prism focusing colors into a single stream of light, Pacific Rim ends up white-washing everything in service of the spectacle, making it fall short in other facets.
If the internet is hell, complete with gleeful tormentors and the cacophony of a billion crying screams, then Reddit is a whole circle unto itself. A hollow place, now boiling over with karma coveters, bandwagoners, Enlightened Atheists, MRAs, and people who love niche community drama. A place where productivity and post-2000 web design has all but been forgotten. From among the seventy million unique visitors last month, the pulsating hivemind of some twenty million registered users (really more like two and a half k) picked out the most hated individual cells among them, and internet megaphone site Daily Dot assembled it into a top ten list for the rest of us to enjoy. What became obvious after a read through wasn’t the list of offenses in particular, but what the offenses revealed about the sinners they embodied. By being elevated to status of The Worst and enshrined in a Top 10 list, each redditor metamorphosed into avatars of sorts, proverbial Saints to their particular Deadly Sin. With ancient theologian texts on hand, I carefully parsed their offenses and have been able to deduce exactly which realm of sin they now personify deep within belly of the hellmouth.
Recently REPRIEVE, a human rights organization, released a video starring Yasiin Bey AKA rapper Mos Def undergoing the force-feeding procedure used on detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. He doesn’t last long, but who can blame him. A lot of reports on the video made the connection to the late and stubborn Christopher Hitchens, who volunteered to be waterboarded, lasted 11 seconds, then summarily renounced the practice as torture. The point to REPRIEVE’s video is much the same; Put an individual of status through a practice and give the audience an unfiltered view of what occurs every day in our darkest of places. It’s a hard video to watch, and it should be. Current force-feeding procedures involve feeding a long tube through an individual’s nose, then down their esophagus into their stomach, where a kind of gel is secreted to provide the individual nutrients or medication. For further details see the National Post‘s excellent graphic (top image).