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Sep 2011 02

by Aaron Colter

Alright. It’s back to the grind of shouting about changing our government to better suit the lives of the modern many.

I’ve posted a few times about Anonymous and LulzSec (even got a chance to write about how Alan Moore and David Llyod feel about their V for Vendetta mask being used as a symbol), as well as other groups that have taken actions against organizations that have restricted the freedom of speech or information in the world. In my opinion, the reaction of authorities in the United States and around the world to the actions of whistleblowers, data-leakers, online protestors, and those merely offering public support such as journalist Glenn Greenwald (who recently noted that President Obama’s handling of CIA operations are basically the same as George W. Bush) have been far too harsh (eg. threats of unreasonably long jail sentences for first-time and/or young offenders who dare to take a stand against authority, even if they’re within their rights), and worse, dangerous to the basic rights of individuals.

It’s already come out that the Justice Department helped Bank of America try to destroy Wikileaks, that the FBI targets non-threatening Americans for political beliefs, that the government gave $1.2 trillion in tax-payer money to major banks who continue foreclose on people (often illegally), which has horrible consequences on health beyond financial devastation, that the poor have a huge tax burden while social programs continue to be cut, and that the Obama administration is trying to push for a settlement against those that gambled us into a recession and the SEC is playing cover-up, all of this while military actions are literally wasting millions each day to perpetuate a system of violence in a region we are largely ignorant about, which results in billions being wasted at home on projects that do nothing to secure our freedoms or safety.

So, what’s to do be done? The U.S. government is clearly not operating in the best interests of the majority of its citizens, some of this due to incompetence and mismanagement, some due to corruption, some due to bigoted religious beliefs, and some because the two-party system doesn’t encourage actual representation. An armed revolt against our own country in the vein of Egypt will hurt millions and it’d take years to rebuild in the aftermath. Non-violent means of persuasion are therefore the best tactics available.

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Aug 2011 31

by A.J. Focht

After months of rumors and unfounded speculations, there is finally some solid evidence of the presence of the Skrulls in the upcoming Avengers movie. A recent change to the Avengers IMDb page has confirmed that Cobie Smulders (Robin from How I Met Your Mother) is not only playing Maria Hill, Nick Fury’s second in command, but she is also cast as Anelle, the Skrull Princess. How large of a part the Skrulls play is still unknown, but I’m betting they’re Loki’s mysterious army.

While the Avengers are prepping for an apparent intergalactic invasion, the writers of Captain America 2 are discussing what’s going to happen next. Screenwriters Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely recently revealed details about plans for the sequel. There is a high possibility that the second movie will revisit Cap’s past, during an intentional six-month break that was left in the first movie. They are torn at the moment though because they feel it would be a shame not to visit present day Captain America.

On screen superheroes are hotter than ever, and the CW is looking to cash in further. After ten successful seasons of Smallville (six of which were good) the CW canceled the show, which left a large gap in their schedule. Rumors of everything from Nightwing to Raven have floated around, but nothing has come to fruition. Most recently, we hear Supernatural creator Eric Kripke is looking to fill that slot with a Deadman series. Deadman is a lesser known ghost superhero with several powers, including possession of others. Kind of a cool in concept, but I doubt it has the fan base to get past a pilot.

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Aug 2011 27

by Aaron Colter

Did you miss me last week? No? Didn’t notice at all, huh. Well, fuck you. I’m back.

This shit on this list has been deemed cool by a panel of Internets.

1. Making Fun of President Barack Obama

I found about these comics on What Things Do from someone on Facebook who was talking to Tom Neely, who’s excellent The Wolf is now available and worth your money. Anyway, sorry guy-who’s-name-I-can’t-remember, you should get credit for finding these gems. The overall premise of making President Barack Obama wondering-mind leader like George W. Bush is strong, but I found only a few of the comics to be hilarious. Here they are:

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Aug 2011 26

by Steven-Elliot Altman (SG Member: Steven_Altman)

Our Fiction Friday serialized novel, The Killswitch Review, is a futuristic murder mystery with killer sociopolitical commentary (and some of the best sex scenes we’ve ever read!). Written by bestselling sci-fi author Steven-Elliot Altman (with Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse), it offers a terrifying postmodern vision in the tradition of Blade Runner and Brave New World

By the year 2156, stem cell therapy has triumphed over aging and disease, extending the human lifespan indefinitely. But only for those who have achieved Conscientious Citizen Status. To combat overpopulation, the U.S. has sealed its borders, instituted compulsory contraception and a strict one child per couple policy for those who are permitted to breed, and made technology-assisted suicide readily available. But in a world where the old can remain vital forever, America’s youth have little hope of prosperity.

Jason Haggerty is an investigator for Black Buttons Inc, the government agency responsible for dispensing personal handheld Kevorkian devices, which afford the only legal form of suicide. An armed “Killswitch” monitors and records a citizen’s final moments — up to the point where they press a button and peacefully die. Post-press review agents — “button collectors” — are dispatched to review and judge these final recordings to rule out foul play.

When three teens stage an illegal public suicide, Haggerty suspects their deaths may have been murders. Now his race is on to uncover proof and prevent a nationwide epidemic of copycat suicides. Trouble is, for the first time in history, an entire generation might just decide they’re better off dead.

(Catch up with the previous installments of Killswitch – see parts ONE, TWO, and THREE – then continue reading after the jump…)

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Aug 2011 24

by A.J. Focht

When we left off last week, Gamescom 2011 was just starting over in Germany. Most of the major publishers were present to show off what they’ve done since their last junket (E3 for most them). Some favored highlights include updates on Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, with developers Bethesda offering up details on a whole new crafting concept for the game. Blizzard was also on the scene with information on upcoming Cataclysm patches and the announcement of a new “Inferno” difficulty mode being added to Diablo III.

!–more–>
For more details from the event, check out Kotaku’s Gamescom 2011 recap.

Gamescom was just the start of a round of gaming conventions. This weekend the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) takes place in Seattle, Washington. Any games that weren’t showcased at Gamescom are bound to show up here, including the debut of the next game from Portal developers. For a full PAX schedule check here.

One last bit of news from the gaming world; apparently Nintendo shareholders are impressed with the company’s plans for the 3DS. The night after Nintendo revealed its plans for a 3DS-focused closed-to-public event at the Tokyo Game Show, their stocks jumped 9%. Let’s hope that the fans who are actually going to be playing the updated system are just as impressed.

Video games didn’t hold all the convention news last week, as D23 2011 (the Disney expo) took place last weekend as well. This meant more Avengers teasers, and lots of them. Early footage of the film was shown where Loki has been captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. While I am pretty sure this will be part of the start of the movie and ultimately inconsequential, I was more intrigued to hear about his “army.” He could be referring to the Ice Giants, but I’ve got an odd feeling (maybe more of a desire) that it’s the Skrulls. MTV has cast interviews you can check out here.

Other superhero related news this week includes the iTunes-released trailer for the forthcoming Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance film. Nicolas Cage is back as Johnny Blaze, and the new CGI is looking wicked.



There have also been reports coming out about Iron Man 3. President of Robert Downey Jr’s production company, Schmoes Know, had a lot to say on the matter, including the transition from Jon Favreau to new director Shane Black. The third movie in a trilogy is always tricky, and Downey recently mentioned there are still element of the movie he is not satisfied with.

Marvel also unveiled its next big thing: Shattered Heroes. Once Fear Itself has ended (most likely coinciding with the ends of Spider Island and Schism), we’re told the Marvel world will see its heroes trying to pick up the pieces of their lives post-catastrophe.

A last bit of comic news; ComiXology digital storefronts launched Tuesday, with over 100 comic book retailers participating in the program. The digital storefront allows you to purchase your digital copies, and support local stores. It’s not the most practical thing –– since you can purchase exactly the same content direct from the publishers –– but I’m all for helping out mom and pop comic shops.

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Aug 2011 19

by Steven-Elliot Altman (SG Member: Steven_Altman)

Our Fiction Friday serialized novel, The Killswitch Review, is a futuristic murder mystery with killer sociopolitical commentary (and some of the best sex scenes we’ve ever read!). Written by bestselling sci-fi author Steven-Elliot Altman (with Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse), it offers a terrifying postmodern vision in the tradition of Blade Runner and Brave New World

By the year 2156, stem cell therapy has triumphed over aging and disease, extending the human lifespan indefinitely. But only for those who have achieved Conscientious Citizen Status. To combat overpopulation, the U.S. has sealed its borders, instituted compulsory contraception and a strict one child per couple policy for those who are permitted to breed, and made technology-assisted suicide readily available. But in a world where the old can remain vital forever, America’s youth have little hope of prosperity.

Jason Haggerty is an investigator for Black Buttons Inc, the government agency responsible for dispensing personal handheld Kevorkian devices, which afford the only legal form of suicide. An armed “Killswitch” monitors and records a citizen’s final moments — up to the point where they press a button and peacefully die. Post-press review agents — “button collectors” — are dispatched to review and judge these final recordings to rule out foul play.

When three teens stage an illegal public suicide, Haggerty suspects their deaths may have been murders. Now his race is on to uncover proof and prevent a nationwide epidemic of copycat suicides. Trouble is, for the first time in history, an entire generation might just decide they’re better off dead.

(Catch up with the previous installments of Killswitch – see parts ONE and TWO – then continue reading after the jump…)

[..]

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Aug 2011 18

by Bob Suicide

Being the old man that I am, I remember gaming back when we used simple controllers with a limited amount of buttons, sat on our butts for days on end –– without a single save point in sight –– and I liked it. When DDR came out, I was suspicious of this “new” interactive format, and wholeheartedly believed it was part of some giant government conspiracy to get me off my couch. Not being particularly “rhythmically coordinated,” the government’s devious plot failed.

However, little did I know that this set a dangerous precedent, and that something far greater was looming on the horizon of interactive gaming: the Wii. I was actually working at GameStop when the Wii came out. Those were dangerous times on the front lines of the war of retailers vs. consumers. Many a man was lost, either trampled by the hordes of moms trying to bag “the ultimate Christmas gift” or nagged to death with the sonic onslaught of “is it in yet?”

But, after the dust settled and we finished mourning the loss of our beloved brethren, the Wii didn’t really live up to the hype. Ok, I know that’s not an entirely accurate statement to make considering the sales of the Wii and the ground it has made in expanding the casual gaming market. But, as a hardcore gamer, has the Wii ever really provided a satisfying gaming experience? Not really. Sure, Zelda was fun and the console lends itself well to rails shooters like Resident Evil. However, I have two Wiis and I can say with certainty that mine have been used as doorstops more than they have served as relevant gaming consoles.

Needless to say, when the PS3 Move was released it seemed like Sony had missed the marketing mark yet again, since their sad “EyeToy with a wand” failed to capture the hearts and minds of the consumer the way the Wii did. And I joyously snarked –– as any fanboy does –– at their lame attempts to regain relevancy.

So when the Kinect made its debut I sneered at the projections people were making. And I wasn’t alone. Even Penny Arcade gods Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins scoffed at the idea of a motion-sensitive gaming experience that could galvanize the hardcore market.

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