Damn Straight, sister

Hoffman described El Al’s acquiescence to demands to move women passengers as “one more way that ultra-Orthodox extremists get away with demands that have nothing to do with Judaism. Humiliating women can in no way qualify as a religious act. It is simply not acceptable.”

Anat Hoffman, IRAC’s executive director, quoted in The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/01/renee-rabinowitz-sue-israeli-airline-el-al-orthodox-gender-discrimination

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ISIL vs Syria vs the World

It would be nice if people could try to understand that the situation in Syria is complicated. They have been living under an oppressive regime for a long time now. If we put boots on the ground in Syria, what then? Who do we fight? The oppressive government that caused the rebellion to rise up in the first place, radicalizing so many young people, or the evil terrorists supporting the rebellion in order to gain more recruits? Meanwhile, the poor citizens are fleeing en-masses because they don’t want to be stuck in between that either. Then there is global climate change which is making most of Syria a wasteland where farmers are unable to even subsist. Then you have people growing up in France (or the US) who hear all the anti-Islam rhetoric and decide they want to be heroes by becoming terrorists themselves. They only hear one side of the story, because we only tell that side of it.  Then when they act, they seemingly reinforce our hatred and bias.  When can it ever stop?  What about the refugees, trying desperately just to find a safe place to simply live?

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Dying Light: A sort of review

I like playing video games.  My favorite games are ones that have some element of role-playing in them.  I like to pretend I’m somewhere else, someone else, out saving the world or even just saving my own ass.  I especially like games that leave room for choices and let me play my character in different ways based on what kind of mood I’m in that month.  Maybe this play-through I’ll be the evil dictator who doesn’t give a shit about the stupid peasants.  Maybe next time I’ll be the benevolent leader who is so egalitarian she can’t even let her people call her “leader.”

Dying Light has some elements of role-playing, but there are not a lot of choices to make.  The storyline is pretty linear.  You don’t get to choose much about your character.  Occasionally, you can change his outfit but this does not do much of anything as far as I can tell.  Some of the major plot points just play out in cut scenes, with no input from the player whatsoever which is fine.  It is a semi-interactive novel.  You have to achieve certain quests in order to progress the story so you can find out how it ends, but you really don’t get to have much impact on how it ends.  Fortunately, the story is engrossing enough and the quests are engaging enough to make it all work.

I’ve only done one playthrough so far, strictly solo.  The game has a cooperative play mode, but I wanted to play through once on my own first to make sure I did not suck too hard when I started actually playing with other people.  I am ready to do another play through, even though I know the plot points and how it’s going to end and not much will change with a second go.  That is a testament to how much fun and engaging this game is.

As a woman player, I did notice some things that most guys playing this game probably would not.  There are not very many female characters in this game.  There are two main ones with multiple interactions possible that are strong characters.  One is  kind of the stereotypical bad-ass, perfect girl who is completely out of reach and the other is badly disfigured. That’s ok, they behave and are treated as being on the same level as the main character.  The rest of the female characters are either obnoxious, annoying, or just there to be someone’s wife/girlfriend.  There are a few children the main character interacts with.  All of them are boys except one.  The boys all have names.  The girl is called, simply, “girl.”  The main character, of course, is male.  Most of his contacts in Harran are also male.  All of the escort quest-givers are male.  All of the repeating quest-givers (with one notable exception) are male.  The one exception is a very annoying woman who gives a series of  humorously annoying quests.

Granted, some of the male characters are silly or annoying too, but there are a lot more male characters in the game, so the ratio of normal to silly is much higher.  It’s super subtle.  I doubt even my husband would have noticed it without me pointing it out.  Men live in a man’s world.  Most of the people a male game developer interacts with on a daily basis are also men.  Heck, as a systems engineer, most of the people I interact with every day are men.  The ratio of male to female characters in the game just reflects who the game developers/producers think their demographic is.  And maybe they’re (mostly) right.  But, it does make female gamers feel a little shut out, whether that is the intent or not.

There are a lot of women in the world — more women than men, in fact.  Why are we so invisible?

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H1Z1

I’m beginning to think this game is for slow-witted people. Since I still don’t have a mic, I started a new character, gave him the name “NoMic” and logged in. This dipship followed me around for like 15 minutes saying, “Dude, you got a mic? I can’t hear you? Hello? You got a mic?”

It’s super annoying, since there is no text chat in this game for me to tell him to eff the eff off.

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h1z1 funniness

I got H1Z1 yesterday. To get used to the controls and whatnot, I started out playing on a PVE server. I don’t have a headset/mic yet, so I was hoping to just kill some zombies and keep to myself while I got oriented.

Some strange person came up and started trying to punch me, which of course did nothing (PVE, remember?). I couldn’t talk to him because no mic. So he’s punching; I’m waving; and it’s really getting boring fast. He started shouting, “Are you a hacker? You cheater!” I looked through the controls for some appropriate gesture and all I could come up with was the head banger dance, so I did that.

For some reason, this really annoyed the dude. I walked away when I got bored. He followed me into a house and shut the door behind me, preventing me from leaving. I fervently wished I could just pull out my machete and have it over with. Instead, I just logged out, waited for a bit and logged back in. He was, fortunately, gone.

After that, I ordered a gaming headset. I wonder if it would have made any difference if I had been able to talk to him. Possibly not. lol

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Michael Brown and Darren Wilson

I know. Controversial topic, right? But, there is so much crap going around about what has been happening in Ferguson that I felt the need to write this post just to get my own thoughts in order. There are plenty of unknowns, but there are some things I feel pretty sure about, some I highly doubt and others I am undecided on.

My thoughts:

1.  Michael Brown was not a perfect, straight-A student with nothing but love in his heart for all living creatures.  At the very least, he had probably committed some petty crime.  He may have been a bit of a bully.  His rap sheet is still sealed, as any offenses he was ever charged with happened while he was still a juvenile.  He was barely 18 when he was killed.  He was accused of one crime as an adult, the strong-arm robbery of a convenience store.  He allegedly stole some cheap cigars.

2.  Darren Wilson was not a color-blind, perfect example of Officer Friendly.   He had been working at Ferguson for only a few years.  The cop shop he worked at before that had serious issues.  Basically the entire force was fired and they hired all new people.  The reason for this was that the cops could not figure out how to relate to their mostly black constituency without confrontation.  There are reports surfacing that he may have interacted poorly with some of his constituents in Ferguson as well.  One video allegedly shows him threatening to arrest someone for taking video of him, for example.

3.  These two individuals meeting in the street the way they did, with Wilson attempting to throw his weight around (metaphorically) and Brown basically doing the same (albeit more literally) was never going to end well.

4.  Wilson did not shoot Brown in the back.  He deliberately missed as long as the kid was running away.  When Brown stopped and turned around, that’s when Wilson started aiming for his body.  This is important, because Wilson is a pretty good shot.  Most police departments require shooting qualification on a regular basis, so most cops can hit what they aim at pretty well.  But the grouping and spacing of the bullets in Michael Brown’s body show that Wilson could definitely hit what he aimed at.

5.  After Brown turned around, and Wilson had hit him with probably at least two to four shots in the arm, Wilson paused.  This is the point where things get murky.  Wilson says he paused to give the kid one more chance to give up and stop “rushing” him.  Maybe so.  But, if that was the case, then why didn’t he shoot the kid in the leg, or the torso?  Why did he feel the need to shoot him twice in the face?  I’m pretty sure a shot to the leg would have stopped him.  Also Michael Brown was a big guy.  Plenty of real estate to aim at.  Wilson went for the head-shot.  Twice.

Things like this are never cut and dried.  People on the left want to say that Wilson was an evil KKK member who killed Brown just because he was black and for no other reason.  People on the right want to say that Brown was a thug and potential cop-killer and that Wilson had no choice but to open up on the kid just to save himself.  I disagree with both stances.

There is no way to know what actually happened at Wilson’s car that started the whole thing.  Witnesses’ stories conflict.  Was Wilson trying to pull Brown into the car?  Was Brown trying to take Wilson’s gun?  Did Wilson really know that Brown was a suspect in a robbery?  Since the robbery report went out while Wilson was out on another call, it seems unlikely.  Maybe he heard chatter about it on the radio after he drove away from Brown and that is why he spun back over.  Maybe.  Why did Wilson not call in the shooting?  It seems that St. Louis dispatch heard about it on the news, and when Ferguson was contacted, they reportedly did not know what she was talking about.  St. Louis dispatch released recordings of their calls during that time period and there is no mention of the shooting at all.  There is a call around noon for additional cars for “crowd control.”

It’s all very confusing.

So, here is what I believe.  Wilson may have really believed he had to shoot that kid 6 -8 times, including two shots to the head just to be sure, because he was genuinely afraid.  I do not believe that Michael Brown had his hands up in surrender.  I do think that he was far enough away from Wilson (25 – 150 ft, depending on who you ask) that Wilson was not actually in imminent danger.  I believe Wilson was overreacting due to his irrational fear of black people.  I do not believe that he really did have to shoot that man twice in the head just to stop him.  He chose the kill shot, not the stopping shot.  I personally think that there should have been a criminal trial purely on the evidence of those last two kill shots.  At the very least, this man should not be a police officer any more, and certainly not in a racially charged area.

I found Wilson’s interview with George Stephanopoulos a bit creepy.  There was no remorse, no introspection, no questions that he asked himself.  When Stephanopoulos commented that this incident, killing another human being, was likely to haunt Wilson for the rest of his life, Wilson’s reply was chilling.  “I don’t think it’s haunting.  I think it’s always going to be something that happened.”  Really?  You shot a guy two times in the head in supposed terror for your life and it was just “something that happened?”

For Darren Wilson, Mike Brown’s blackness trumped his humanity.  He was a monster, a “demon.”  Maybe this would be more than “just something that happened” if that were not the case.

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Week 3, day 3

Last night I did indeed go out running. It stopped running by the time I got out there, so I only got slightly dripped on when running under trees. I shuffled along on the runs, and my knee lifts were quite slow and deliberate, but I completed the Zombie 5k Week 3, day 2 workout. Since I try to go out four times a week, and the Z5k app only has three workouts a week, my days get a little off.

I have been debating about repeating week 3 because I just feel like it was too hard. There are compelling arguments on both side. Maybe I should just keep going and barely complete the workouts all the way through until I barely run a 5K at the end. Then I could go back and re-do the whole thing as interval training with slow runs and fast(er) runs instead of walks and slow runs. It seems like a reasonable idea. I really would like to be able to run at least at a medium jogging speed rather than slower than a power walker. I guess I need to take it slow and get there when I get there.

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Week 3, day 2

If Sunday’s run was tough, Tuesday’s run was miserable. I did the Week 3, Day 1 run form the “Ease into 5K app” just to test out whether it was in line with the Week 3 runs from Zombie 5K. I think it’s pretty close, though differently balanced between the running and walking bits. I still had a miserable time completing it. For a while I was running so slowly that I swear there were slugs passing me up. (To be fair, we have some really large slugs out here.) I also didn’t complete one of the runs and skipped the last run altogether.

Wow, do I feel discouraged, but it doesn’t matter. I took last night off because I was just so exhausted. My knees still hurt and I haven’t been sleeping well. I think maybe I just overdid the last couple runs last week and needed to let my body catch up. Of course, it was beautiful and sunny yesterday and today it’s cold, rainy, and nasty. I pretty much have to go out today or I’ll get my schedule all fucked up again, which is how I got to this point in the first place.

So, I’ll go out tonight in the rain. I’ll do the best I can. If I keep having difficulty getting through the runs in week 3, I’ll repeat week 3 next week. So there.

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week 3, day 1

Last night’s run was interesting. It was hard. Starting a new week always is. It takes a day or two to adjust to an increase in training intensity. But, last night, I also got turned around on the trails and ended up over a mile from my house at the end of the training. The battery ran out on my phone, so I couldn’t just pull up a map, and I was kind of going the wrong way for a bit. So. . . I ended up doing a total of 5 miles last night instead of the 2.5 or so that I was originally planning on.

Needless to say, I’m a bit tired today. That is a bit of an understatement. Perhaps the phrase, “totally wiped” would be more accurate. But, it doesn’t matter (as they say), because today is a rest day. I guess I depend too heavily upon my smart phone, but whatever. Technology is good! Embrace the tech!

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Week two day four

Today was an odd run. It was supposed to be an easy walk/run. I was doing the week 1, day 3 workout from last week. I meant to take it easy because this week has been off and today was normally supposed to be a rest day before the long run tomorrow. I was walking along on the warm-up, enjoying nature and zoning out. After a while, it (finally) occurred to me that I had been walking for a while and hadn’t done any runs yet. I looked at my phone, and my 5k trainer app had crashed. I’d been walking for 22 minutes. I ended up being out for over an hour, with a few short and longish runs, but I could not get he workout to load again, so I really don’t have a good record. I keep having trouble with this app and I’m wondering if I should switch to a different trainer app. But, I’m really into the zombies theme and the workouts are better than some of the other apps I’ve tried (and failed to complete) in the past. Maybe I should just go old-school and take a stopwatch and a notepad out with me.

So tired. I don’t really need any additional hurdles to jump through. Just getting out there and training is enough. Normally, I feel pretty up after a run. Not so much at the beginning of a run, but there’s a sense of accomplishment by the time it’s done. Not today, really. I just feel kind of discouraged. But, it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow is a new day. At least I got out there.

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