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Ditching the Paradigm: Chavez, the Anarchist Outlook, and the Third Way

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Ditching the Paradigm: The Death of Hugo Chavez, the Anarchist Outlook, and the 'Third Way'.

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If you're a regular reader of OT, you'll be somewhat familiar with the fact that I always seek to attack what I deem are flaws in arguments or logic regardless of where I stand (feel free to contest this in the comments). There's been many threads where I would attack Islam where it deserves to be attacked and also defended Islam from what I deem to be unfair criticisms. Same thing with Israel, I attack Israeli policy where it deserves to be attacked and I often defend Israel where it deserves to be defended.

What does this have to do with the title? Well, lets start with Mr. Chavez. I was arguing on Reddit with someone who said I was an American/CIA apologist when I criticized Chavez's human rights record and because I called him an "authoritarian criminal." When I received this response (being called a CIA apologist) I told the user "Don't even get me started with the CIA. If you think I think Chavez is criminal, just listen to what I have to say about America and the CIA."

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There's a paradigm in modern international relations. It is that you either support and kiss the shoes of U.S.A et al, or you're with the "anti-imperialist freedom fighters" of Iran, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela and other criminal states who justify their existence on the basis that America once f*cked with them (which has some merit, don't get me wrong. America has committed crimes in some of these places). So, within this paradigm, one is forced to pick a side, either support America et al when they are right and ignore when they are wrong or do the same to Iran, Russia, Syria, etc. 

Now, regarding anarchism. I won't get too deep in my thoughts about the anarchist form of social organization, but my relevant thoughts on anarchism can be summarized in the following: we live in anarchism. For me at least, anarchism is simply the idea that no state is holy or deserves to be worshipped because it is simply a human creation and if your going to run a state, you can expect to also do some immoral and criminal things. Perhaps its unavoidable. I start with the assumption that all states are predisposed to do harm. This allows me to criticize every state where it goes wrong regardless of my current biases, why? Because I don't consieder the state to be holy.

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So for me, Chavez is a criminal, Obama is a criminal, Khameni is a criminal, and the list goes on. 

If one wants to properly judge the action of a state, or look at international affairs with a sense of morality and justice, they're going to have to start ditching this paradigm that has been forced upon our mindsets by both sides in the game (America v Iran/Russia, etc). They're also going to have to stop consider their states as holy entities and they're going to have to stop apologizing for their crimes. Criticize all where they desrvie it and defend all when they deserve it. 

Now, the "Third Way."

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So, this is going to mainly relate to Arab politics, but it can apply in other places going through the same dilemna really. 

The paradigm that has been established in the Arab World is similar to the one established in the global arena, it is that you are either with secular dictators or you are with Islamic fundamentalists (or as I like to call them, "bearded a55holes."

Don't support Assad? Well then surely you must support the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists! Dont' support Mubarak? Well then surely, you are with Morsi and his friends!

This paradigm is re-established constantly in international and Arabic media and it is what is holding Arabs back. I've said before that there are no bigger ciminals in the ME than the "bearded a55holes" because it is their existence which has helped justify and solidify decades of tyranny by secular dictators. There is a perception that there are only two options in the Arab World: secular dictators or a theocracy.

There is a "Third Way" though. It is the way of Democratic Arab Secularism. Elections in Egypt and Tunisia have showed that there is support for secular parties and Arabs are slowly starting to realize that there is a "Third Way" to move forward, one that doesnt involve religious authoritarianism or secular authoritarianism. There is a way for the Arab World to move forward that doesn't involve bending down to America or bending down to Iran. The "Third Way" ditches the old paradigm and looks out for the rights and genuine interests of the people of the Arab World by establishing a democratic and secular society. 

I can only hope more people start to see this third option. 

An Analysis of News Outlets

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One's world view is defined by the news sources he consumes. There's a variety of news sources each with different biases and spins. Some more sensational than others. So I'm gonna do a rundown of the biggest news sources and review them.

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...I'm of course talking about gaming news.....

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I've been following the GI site for a couple years now, and they usually have really good gaming articles, although there are few articles generally. The site isn't as full as their print magazine. But the main prize here is the cover reveals. Countless games lie BF3, AC3, Dishonoured, Skyrim all had their first information and screenshots covered by GI before anyone else.

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Now this is a site I visit at least once a day. Really good commentary on gaming as well as regularly updated gaming news. If there's one issue I have with these guys is that they never have any first hand news (or barely). They always report on ground breaking news from conferences, leaks, expos from other sources.

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Now this isn't really your average news site. There's no reporters or staff writing. It's all user generated. Users scour the internet searching for articles and the stories get rated on degrees based on the amount of hits they get. The real treat here is that stories that us gamers are really interested in as consumers often make it to the top, so you'll see stories here that you won't see anywhere else. Another benefit is of course, you have all the gaming news from all over the internet in one place. The downside though is that you might sometimes see stories on the front that is more or less some rambling from a random guys blog. So you might get excited from seeing a news story on the Xbox 720 on the front page, but the story itself accounts to nothing. I should add that the comments section is filled with really smart gamers as well who know a lot about the industry.,

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I visit PCGamer often as well to get news on PCgamers(obviously). But seriously, this platform is way too neglected in this day and age its good to see real gaming journalists (sort of an oxymoron lol) talk about the issues that face PCgamers such as crappy ports, drm, delays, etc. I should warn you however, that the comments section in this site contains some of the most cynical and bitter human beings the world has to offer. You may have to take some antidepressents when you're done here.

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CVG is really good as well. They have really good access to events and expos so you'll often get first hand impressions of games that are yet to be released, and they often have a lot of detail in them as well such as this latest one on AC3

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/369688/previews/assassins-creed-3-monster-3-hour-playthrough-new-gameplay-videos/

So there you have it. These are the sites I visit the most to get my gaming news. There are some really big ones that I don't go to such as GT or IGN, so I can't say these are the best ones on the internet, but these are the one's I visit the most.

Honourable Mentions:

Gamespot: Outstanding E3 coverage and the Quoted for Truth show is really good as well.

Electric Playground: A gaming tv show you can watch online. I've watched it for years (since the days of PS2) and the host (Victor Lucas) is a gaming commenter I have a lot of respect for.

Destructoid: Mainly beause the main editor Jim Sterling is a funny guy.

The Worst site?: Kotaku bar none. They are the worst, most lazy and sensational garbage you can find. The only thing that MIGHT on some distant planet redeem them is the fact that they break some news once in a while like that massive PS4 "Orbis" leak.

Feel free to comment.

What I want from E3

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The most important week in gaming is almost upon us and I wanted to write this blog before hand to say what I want to see from the different companies at E3 as well as give my predictions of what we are going to see. Im going to look at each publisher and say what Im hoping to see from them.

SONY

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What do I want to see from Sony? Many things. I want to see some gameplay from God of War 4 and the Last of Us as well as (and more importantly) a gameplay video or a trailer from The Last Guardian. If we dont see anything at all from the Last Guardian, then I can guarantee you the game will never see the light of day.

I also want to hear more about Sony's alleged partnership with a cloud gaming company which I think seems impossible only because cloud gaming is unrealistic for most people because of their internet speeds.

However, knowing Sony, we are probably going get what I asked for (except for the Last Guardian gameplay since I have a feeling that game has been canned). We are also probably going to get a lot of announcements for the Vita that nobody will care about and some more PSMove crap that will just piss off the hardcore gamers.

And of course, how could I write a wishlist blog without saying that it's about time for the PS4. It's a crime against gaming imo to make gamers wait nearly a decade for new consoles. Alright fine, perhaps that was an exaggeration, but you get the picture. Sony should at least hint that a PS4 is coming down the line. But given how much the PS3 is still selling abd how much exclusives Sony has planned down the line, I doubt we will hear anything about the PS4.

MICROSOFT

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Microsoft is going to have to have some tricks uo their sleeve if they want to remain relevant this year. The only big exclusive I can see them presenting is Halo 4, and even that seems bland at this point in time. Im not much of an Xbox gamer, so there isn't much I want from Microsoft besdies an announcment for the next Xbox. However, like with Sony, Im sure we wont hear anything about the next Xbox. Instead we will probably hear about more crappy Kinect titles...

UBISOFT

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Ubisoft is literally the most predictable company in gaming history. They have done the same show for about 3 years now, and I can tell you exactly what's going to happen.

-Some cheap unfunny comedian they hired from L.A is going to come onto stage and make a bunch of unfunny jokes.

- They will demo Assassins Creed 3

- They will demo Far Cry 3

-They're going to announce some Kinect crap such as a dance game

- Something that has to do with Rayman

These things are guaranteed. But: what is still up in the air are some new games that they might announce. Im hoping that they will at least show a trailer for the new Splinter Cell game they have been working on and perhaps some gameplay or a trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2.

ROCKSTAR

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While Rockstar games wont be attending E3 this year, i was hoping they would announce a release day for GTA V and some more news and information regardign their PS3 exclusive games 'Agent.'

EA GAMES

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Aside from filing for bankruptcy and perhaps going to hell, there isn't much I want from EA this year.........alright perhaps that was too harsh. But there is literally nothing from EA that has me excited this year. Crysis 3? Looks exactly like Crysis 2. Medal of Honour Warfighter? Ive had enough grey military shooters for my taste during the past 2 years. The only thing I could want from them is to announce some cool new IP's, but I doubt that will happen.

UNREAL ENGINE 4

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Perhaps this is the closest we will get to to seeing new consoles at this years E3. The snapshot above is from the Unreal Engine 4 demo that was shown privatley to developers. it will be shown in depth during this years E3 and while we might not see a console, Epic games knows more than any of us what specs the next gen consoles will have and Im sure this demo was built with that in mind. So im hoping these visuals are a glimpse into what is in store for us next gen.

SQUARE-ENIX

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There isnt much to say about Square other than the fact that we are going to see some Hitman Abslution gameplay and some Tomb Raider gameplay. However, Im hoping that we will also see an official announcment for Thief 4 which is being made by Eidos Montreal, the same studio that brought us Deus Ex: Human Revolution (my personal goty for 2011).

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands -- Review

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Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is more or less a forgotten game. Coming out in the Spring of 2010, it was overshowded by other big titles. There was little hype surrounding this game and many thought of it as just an obligatory game Ubisoft had to make because of the movie that was going to be released. The devs touted this game as a return to the Sands of Time trilogy with the prince we all know and love. I am a die hard POP fand and I regard The Sands of Time as one of the best games ever made. Remisicng about the Sands of Time and feeling all the nostalgia from my first playthrough of that game made want to pick this up and see if it really was a return to the gameplay of the Sands of Time. I'll be comparing this game to the Sands of Time a lot as thats the standard I hold any Prince of Persia game to.

Visuals

This game is defintely beautiful. Everything from the lighting, to the sand to the environments are all very well done. It's clear that the concept artists and the level designers thought this game through very well. You won't expect super-high polygon counts, but the game still looks polished and all the environments are defintely nice to look at.

You will travel to many different parts of the same palace in this game (much like in the Sands of Time) and there is quite a variety in the locations. You'll go from a palace garden to a baths to a underground aqueduct and they all look very well designed. If there is once concern about the environments though, is that there is not as much of a variety of colour in the outdoor sections (since you're in the middle of a sandstorm); this can make the outdoor sections quite bland, but thankfully, most of the game does have a variety in ****and colour. But even with these: it still doesn't reach the quality of level design and art we saw in the Sands of Time.

Performance wise, the game runs very smooth. I played this on PS3 and I was plesantly surprised with how well this ran for a Ubisoft game on PS3. The graphics look very clean and sharp, the frame-rate maintains a constant 30 for about 99% of gameplay. When there are dozens of enemies on the screen, you might notice a slight drop in frames, but other than that the frame-rate is very good. Screen tearing is also very minimal, only showing up in sometimes in cut-scenes.

Story

The story is set in between the Sands of Time and before Warrior Within. So our prince hasn't turned entirely emo just yet. Without giving too much away, our dear prince is travelling to his brother's kingdom to pay him a visit while it's under attack. To try to stop the invading armies, his brother releases King Solomon's ancient army from the sands who replicate when in contact with more sand. Little do they know that this army was actually made to destroy Solomon, and not to help him. The palace becomes over run with these undead soldiers and with the help of a djinn (arabic word for genie or ghost) our prince has to stop the sands and undue what his brother has done.


This is probably the weakest part of the game. The story feels.........adequate, shall we say. It again does not reach anywhere near the quality of the Sands of Time and it feels somewhat rushed, almost like they planned this game as just something to be released with a movie. The story picks up way too fast, there is not any backstory on any of the characters, and the story progresses rather quickly and before you know it, it just ends. If you played this game, you will understand what I mean by "it just ends." Within 30 seconds of saving the day, it just cuts to the credits, there is no time to really take the story in; it concludes way too fast. It just doesn't reach anywhere near the level of the Sands of Time where the pacing was perfect in that game with high moments and low, calm moments. This game starts at 100 mph and stays there all the way through. There is no moments of calm or serenity in this game like there was in the Sands of Time, there is no time to take in the beauty of the surroundings. It feels like the story was just made to get you from point A to point B, nothing more.

Gameplay

Now, this where this game does shine and show its quality. The gameplay in this game is very fun and there's a lot of variety in it. The parkour is probably where most of the effort was put in this game. There are a ton of new elements in the parkour such as the ability to freeze water and use it as a solid, the ability to reconstruct the broken parts of the palace in real time and the ability to run vertically on walls after jumping on them. With all these new elements, there is whole dynamic to the parkour unlike anything in a previous title. You have to time your use of the abilities corretly to be able to progress. This makes the parkour rather difficult, but it is satisfying once you've completed a section.

The traps in this game are back, but they don't play as much of a role in the gameplay as they did in previous titles. Theiy show up often, but they are very easy once you've mastered them and they won't cause much trouble for you.

The combat in this game is much different than previous titles. It abandons the the more 'one-on-one fights' we saw in previous titles where there would only be 5 or 6 enemies on screen at once where you would have to focus your attacks on one enemy and block their attacks. Instead they've implemented a new system that takes a lot of cues from God of War where you will be facing dozens of enemies at once. I really dislike this change as it makes the combat a bit less satisfying. Blocking, counter-attacks are non existent in the combat. And vaulting over enemies is a less important role in combat as you will have to defeat 20-30 enemies at once. They've actually stripped the prince of some abilities from the Sands of Time such as the ability to vault over enemies off of walls. To make up for the deficit, they've added new magic powers you can use during combat such as shooting ice from your sword or using a whirlwind to move your enemies back. It definetly gets more interesting later in the game, but like so many things in this game: it is not as good as the Sands of Time.

Overall

IfI were to score this game, I would give it a 7 out of 10. It may sound like I hate this game, but that only comes from the fact that I wanted it to be as good as the Sands of Time (which I would award a 10). The game is still a fun experience, the visuals are very nice, the parkour is satisfying and new, and the combat is still fun overall. I got this game for 12 dollars used. Ubisoft has long stopped shipping new copies of this game, so if you find it for cheap as I did, I recommend you pick it up as it does offer a fun experience. And if you consider yourself a Prince of Persia fan and you still haven't played this, then you should definetly pick it up if you can as it is a nice addition to the series. You'll also notice a couple nods to the Sands of Time in this game that you should know if you've played the Sands of Time many times.

Score: 7/10

Feel free to comment.

**Sorry for the font sizes, for some reason they all turned out differently

Next-Gen

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There's been a lot of talk lately about the next-generation of consoles, with most analysts thinking they'll arrive in the holiday season of 2013. Frankly, they couldn't come any sooner. Consoles have been running games at sub-hd resolution only at 30-fps for way too long. PC technology is light years ahead, and playing Metro 2033 at 1080p just reminds me of what console gamers are missing out on. This blog is going to cover what I personally want from the next generation of consoles. I'll only be talking about the "Xbox 720" and the PS4 because I don't consider the WiiU to be next gen (rumors say it'll only barely be more powerful than the 360).

Graphics

When this generation first launched I was absoloutley blown away by the quality of the graphics. I remember first playing King-Kong on the 360 at HD and I couldn't imagine graphics ever getting any better (note I was only in 7th grade at the time, back in 2005). The games blew me away, and as the generation moved forward, they only got better. Games like Gears of War and MGS4 were pushing console graphics to the limit. However, playing Crysis at my older cousin's house made me realize that the consoles were essentially toasters compared to what computers could do. Console graphics stayed the same, while PC's were pushing it to the limit. At this point, current-gen graphics are laughable compared to the 1080p (and higher) and 60fps that PC's are getting. It's time to push consoles up to that level.

The picture above is from the Unreal Engine 3 Samaritan Demo that is a projection of what Epic Games thinks next gen graphics will look like. Note, this is running on 3 GTX 580s (a single 680 now). If this is indeed what graphics will look like next gen, I say: thank fu*cking god! This is what next-gen graphics should be like, and this will also be doing a favour to all the PC gamers out there who want to push their rigs to the limit. The Xbox 720 and PS4 should be pushing these kinds of graphics with FXAA (which gets the same affect as regular MSAA but with less resources). I would also prefer for these games to run at 60 fps, but at those graphics, I doubt it. However, if they can't get 60fps, games have to be locked at 30fps with absoloutley zero dips in frames and zero screen-tearing. Anything below 28fps next gen will be an absolute fail in my opinion. I cannot stress the importance of frame-rate next gen. I can't imagine how gamers can settle for games that dip 20 fps all the time (Ubisoft's PS3 engineers, I'm looking at you). Games also need to cut out pop-in completely. Hopefully a decent amount of RAM can do this.

I should note however, that I won't mind if devs use graphics from this gen (such as above) for certain next gen games running at 60 fps. If a game is an open world game (such as Assassin's Creed or Skyrim), I would give them a pass to use current gen graphics as long as they run at 60 fps next gen. Graphics are not all about resolution, if a game looks clean and smooth, it can look just as good as Metro 2033, such as Uncharted 3 above.

Hardware:

To achieve what I want in graphics, the next generation of consoles will require a decent amount of horsepower. Note, however, that consoles can achieve the same level of graphics that a PC can with much lower hardware because the software is much more optimized on consoles and because it uses a more barebones API, giving the developers more power over the hardware. For this reason, you won't need a GTX 680 to power the next generation of consoles. I think you could reach the graphics of the Epic's Samaritan demo above with a card such as the GTX 570 (it will probably be the 770 by 2013). I won't get into CPU specs since I'm not to well-versed in them, but I imagine a CPU about double or triple the power of the 360's CPU will do pretty good. And I'm sure AMD or IBM can make this happen at a reasonale price by making a custom CPU for the next consoles. Sony and Microsoft also have to ensure that the architectures for the CPU and the GPU (as well as the software) are all very simple to code for. I mainly play on the PS3, and I can't tell you how many times I have been upset with very poor ports to the ps3 with lower resolutions, no AA, screen tearing and utter horrible framerates Ubisoft, Rockstar, Crytek, and Bethesda probably have the worst experience with this. While it's their fault for not coding and porting properly, I want the next-gen consoles to be as simple to use and code for to ensure devs don't have to spend too much time porting properly (since they'll probably just do a poor job rather than actually spend time on it).

For the RAM, what I want to see is 2gm or VRam (DDR5 obviously) and at least 4GB of RAM for the rest of the system. Having a lot of RAM is a good way to make the next-generation last a lot longer since devs will be able to squeeze more juice out of the console if they have more RAM on board.

For the hard-drive, it should be at least 750 gb (7200 rpm oviously) as digital downloads are going to be much more popular next gen.

The disc drive (if there is one) should obviously be a blu-ray drive, hopefully spinning at 2x speed. But I won't be surprised if it spins at a higher speed since the next gen will require information to be read at a much faster rate. For this reason, I'm hoping that game consoles will use some sort of solid state drive such as SD cards to run games to not only have games loading much faster, but to ensure that the disc drive does not sound like a jet engine (Xbox 360, im looking at you).

You're probably thinking this may cost a fortune, but take note that console manufacturers do not make profit by selling consoles (at least initially), but rather, by selling the lisences to publishers to allow them to make a game on their platform. I'd imagine this can all be done at under 600$ at launch. Personally, that may be a bit steep for some people, but I think it is worth it to pay for quality. That is why the next generation of consoles should also be tested and refined to make them run as cool and long as possible. I'm hoping Microsoft learned their lesson from the RROD.

Feel free to comment.